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257 Lawrence St
Hartford, CT, 06106

(860) 721 7876

The Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness launched be homeful in December, 2014. This campaign is a bold and innovative project designed to help Americans stamp out family homelessness for good. Our mission is to end homelessness one family at a time for the 1,000 families in Connecticut that experience homelessness in any given year.

While shelters across the state are bursting at the seams, there is currently no major source of funding to keep struggling families from slipping into homelessness in moments of crisis. By making funds available to keep families in the comfort of home, we can help break the cycle of homelessness that can carry forward across generations.

Through community partnerships and collaboration with families across Connecticut, the be homeful project will establish the first state-wide emergency assistance fund for shelter diversion. This fund will be accessible to case workers serving families at the front door of shelter and will reimburse expenses for rental assistance, security deposits, gas cards and other sundry expenses tied to diverting family from shelter in favor of actual homes.

Ages 10-13

the be homeful project: Grades 5-8 lesson plan (ages 10-13)


The big idea

Homelessness affects people of all ages, especially children and families, but we can work together to end homelessness. Giving students the opportunity to think about and discuss an issue that is often overlooked is a valuable chance for them to use critical thinking skills, while addressing a current issue.

Learning objective

Students will feel more connected to individuals without homes. They will understand that they can take action to end homelessness and that they will participate in open discussion with their classmates.

In the real world

Homelessness exists in our country and in our towns. The more educated our students are on the topic, the more likely they are to react empathetically when they encounter homelessness. Ideally, these lessons will lead to an understanding of family homelessness and will instill in a student the knowledge and confidence to work towards ending it.

Time frame: 30-40 minutes


To educate students about homelessness and encourage community engagement. 





  • Homelessness: without a home

  • Reasons that family can become homeless

    • unexpected expenses

    • if someone gets hurt

    • gas, groceries, and the cost of housing together can cost more than people can afford

  • Someone who doesn't have a home or someone experiencing homelessness (preferred term) vs. "homeless person"

  • The McKinney-Vento Education of Homeless Children and Youth Assistance Act helps students without homes be enrolled quickly (without usually required forms) and lets those students experience stability by staying at the same school even when their residence is not stable.


  1. Introduction: Teacher introduces rules (INQ 3-5.17):

    • Respect each others' views

    • Ask questions if you have them

    • Other classroom rules

  2. Class discussion: Teacher will ask the class what they know about homelessness, their experiences with homelessness, etc.

    • Students will be asked to volunteer ideas to the class.

    • Students will write down their ideas on a piece of paper (without names), crumple the paper up, and throw it into the center of the room.

    • Teacher will share some of the anonymous thoughts.

  3. Teacher will introduce the class to the concept of homelessness and talk about why some families experience homelessness (specifically family homelessness and the unexpected costs that can cause it)

  4. Video and class discussion:

    • Teacher will show "Growing up homeless" video.

    • After the video, students will discuss in groups of 2-3 (INQ 3-5.11)

      • What did you learn?

      • Were you surprised by anything?

      • How did it make you feel? (Sad? Scared? Is it unfair?)

    • Students will reconvene and the teacher will ask them to share any thoughts that they wish to.

    • Look at chart. Does it tie back to the video at all? Do any of the sections surprise you? What sections of the chart fit with what Sarah and Rebecca said? (INQ 3-5.10, INQ 3-5.8 )

    • What can you do if a friend is in Sarah and Rebekah's shoes?

      • Tell a trusted adult. Who is that? It could be a teacher, parent, etc.

      • Their parents can call 211 for help.

      • The McKinney-Vento Education of Homeless Children and Youth Assistance Act helps students without homes be enrolled in schools quickly (without usually required forms) and lets those students experience stability by staying at the same school even when their residence is not stable.

  5. Closure: Teacher will explain that it only takes $1,000 to prevent a family from becoming homeless. Teacher will read “Paddington” and:

    1. Ask the class to make connections between the "Growing up homeless" video and the book.

    2. Explain that Paddington and the sisters in the video all experienced homelessness but had people who helped them through it.

    3. Ask about other ways to help people without homes (INQ 3-5.15/3-5.17). Students will suggest giving hats, coats, and toys to children in shelters. Lead them towards realizing that the best way to help a person without a home is to make it possible for them to stay housed rather than enter shelter in the first place.


Reinforce the distinction between "helping the homeless" and "ending homelessness" by holding a "marmalade drive" in honor of Paddington's favorite food. Kids can teach their families what they have learned and build the social safety net for children in their communities by collecting change for their local "be homeful" fund, which frontline workers from the shelter system can access to help local families facing imminent homelessness remain housed rather than enter the shelter system in the first place. Visit to download your DIY marmalade kit.