The voice of California’s charter school movement

Going Above & Beyond: 5 Charter Public Schools Committed to Supporting Homeless Students 

By Ana Tintocalis

It's back-to-school for #CharterNation this month. More than 685,000 charter public school students are strapping on their backpacks and filing into campuses for the 2023-24 academic school year. 

For the past couple of weeks, many parents have been busy ticking off their child's class supply lists which could even include some new clothing and shoes. 

While this may be the norm, there is a growing number of families who don't have enough money to pay for a roof over their heads. 

CCSA’s latest research brief, Homeless Youth in California Charter Public Schools 2023, finds more than 14,700 students attending charter public schools are experiencing homelessness -- that's about 2% of the state’s charter school student population. Charters in large urban areas like Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Bernardino have the largest concentrations of homeless students.

CCSA’s new research also finds that homelessness disproportionately affects Latino and Black charter school students compared to their peers.Blog research embed-2

The high cost of living and the lack of affordable housing are two big factors contributing to the increase in California’s homeless student population — both in charter and traditional public schools.

Frontline educators believe the number of homeless students is much higher because parents are hesitant to provide that information to schools voluntarily.

While a more accurate count may be elusive, one thing is clear: Homeless students are more likely than their peers to drop out of school because they often can’t complete their coursework and are chronically absent due to their difficult circumstances.

Most everyone within California’s K-12 system agrees that more needs to be done to support this vulnerable group of students. Within the charter sector, many charter public schools have received California Community School Grants. They are currently expanding or strengthening their support systems and providing increased wraparound services to homeless students and their families.

In addition, five charter public schools have been highlighted in CCSA’s research brief, Homeless Youth in California Charter Public Schools 2023, for satisfying the basic needs of homeless students while also ensuring these students progress academically.

Here’s a quick rundown of where these five charter public schools are located in California and how they’re supporting homeless youth:


Scholarship Prep (K-8)

Orange CountyScholarship Prep

Homeless youth make up 21% of Scholarship Prep’s student population. To support these students, the charter ensures all staff receive trauma-informed training. Scholarship Prep also offers summer programs and family education courses to homeless students and their families. In addition, Scholarship Prep provides free clothing, food, and toiletry products. The school even offers a free laundry service. Nonprofits such as Project Hope Alliance, Latino Health Access, and Serve the People partner with this school to offer a myriad of other critical supports.


The Learning Choice Academy, East County (K-12)TLC East County

San Diego County

Ten percent of TLC’s student population has been identified as homeless. This independent study program offers personalized learning plans, one-on-one teacher support, individualized college and career planning, as well as flexible schedules to all of its students. This approach especially benefits TLC students who are dealing with housing insecurity as it allows them to continue their learning no matter where they are. TLC also ensures most staff members are bilingual so that they can effectively communicate and support English learners and their families.


New Heights Charter School (TK-8)

Los Angeles

New Heights has a dedicated Student and Family Support team that collaborates with its Homeless Youth Liaison to support the 8% of students who are homeless at the school. They provide basic necessities such as food, clothing, and class supplies. When it comes to coursework, New Heights offers afterschool intervention sessions and flexibility with assignment deadlines. The team also conducts regular check-ins to support students’ mental, social, emotional, and academic development.


Rocketship Mosaic Elementary (K-5)Rocketship_Education_Logo

Santa Clara County

Homeless youth make up 7% of Rocketship Mosaic’s student population. To support high needs students, Mosaic created CareCorps, a group of educators who works directly with students and families to identify those in need and connects them to resources and services. Rocketship Mosaic also partners with local enrichment provider KidzToPros to provide STEAM-based afterschool enrichment.


Inland Leaders Charter (TK-8)Inland Leaders

San Bernardino

Five percent of Inland Leaders’ student population has been identified as homeless. The charter school partners with Olive Crest Family Services to provide counseling and mentoring for teens and young adults in crisis. For example, counselors work alongside educators to find housing for homeless students or help students transition once they have “aged-out” of the public school system. The charter school also offers a mental health program, an extensive afterschool electives program, as well as an advisory program that connects students with an adult mentor or teacher who plans and assesses students' development.


>> Want to learn more about how homelessness is impacting students within California's charter public schools? Download CCSA’s latest research brief: Homeless Youth in California Charter Public Schools 2023

>> Also, check out CCSA’s “Find A Charter School” Interactive Map to pinpoint the exact location of each of these charter public schools — or find a charter near you! 

This blog story was written by Ana Tintocalis, CCSA's Senior Director of Media Relations and Editorial Content. She is a frequent contributor to the CharterNation Blog. Got a good charter school story? Contact her at