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CMS announces funding for 100 homeless students after WCNC exclusive interview with former Panthers Steve Smith

Smith blasted CMS for its lack of a virtual plan for the nearly 5,000 homeless students in the district.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A reverse of course from CMS after WCNC anchor Sarah French interviewed former Panthers star, Steve Smith.

Smith blasted CMS for its lack of a virtual plan for the nearly 5,000 homeless students in the district. 

Smith told French, “If this is their best then damn it, it ain't good enough!”

In a virtual press conference, CMS, just four days after our WCNC exclusive, announced that they will be funding 100 students to attend the center. This, after CMS originally told Smith they could only fund 35. 

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Earnest Winston said, "I think it's important for me to address the crisis of homelessness in our community. We're grateful frankly to the Steve Smith Family Foundation for recognizing and addressing the virtual learning needs of our children whose families are currently housing compromised. I want to say that CMS is contributing $116,000 that will provide 100 children the opportunity to receive eight weeks of virtual learning assistance, technology, school supplies, meals, and more offerings through the foundation. I will say the need still remains great and I want to encourage others in our community to help us meet this need."

The Steve Smith Family Foundation partnered with the Urban League of Central Carolinas and the Hygge co-working building in Uptown to provide a learning space for students that have nowhere else to go.

“We got 8,000 square feet of space," said Gerald Littlejohn, executive director of the Steve Smith Family Foundation. "It already has cubicles, chairs, furniture. It’s already social distance friendly and bathroom facilities, (and is) Wi-Fi-enabled.”

After the announcement, Smith released a statement saying: 

"Over the last few days, we've been able to engage with CMS on multiple levels. I want to thank them for hearing our cry for the community. There's still much work to be done in Charlotte to help our most vulnerable populations. We all should rise to the challenge."

Smith also told French that while funding for 100 students is great, there are exactly 4,100 homeless students in the district, and he wants all of those students taken care of so they have a chance at a bright future. 

According to CMS, examples of living situations that may qualify students as homeless include, but are not limited to:

  • Living with a friend, relative or another person/family because of a loss of housing
  • Staying in a motel or hotel because of a loss of housing, fleeing domestic violence, or natural disaster
  • Living in an emergency shelter, transitional housing or domestic violence shelter
  • Living in a car, park or public place, abandoned building or bus station
  • Living temporarily in substandard housing
  • Living in a campground or an inadequate trailer home
  • Living in a runaway or homeless youth shelter; runaway youth
  • Youth living on their own, even if their families want them to come home

Here is how you can support:

  • $200 / per child – covers one week of expenses
  • $800 / per child – covers one month of expenses
  • $5,800 / per child - covers the full 29-week school year of expenses

Click here if you would like to support the effort.

The foundation has also set up an Amazon wish list for those wishing to help. 

Since our WCNC exclusive aired, the foundation has raised $30,000, but 4,100 students need help. Smith and CMS are both calling on the community to meet the need.

Watch: The virtual learning successes and struggles 

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