At the Student Support Network, we improve the lives of Baltimore County students living in poverty by providing food, other basic necessities, and advocacy support.
Every student needs support. From cyberbullying to learning differences, peer pressure to puberty, navigating the challenges of childhood in the school environment is difficult!
Many local children and teens face additional pressures such as hunger, lack of basic necessities like warm clothing and personal hygiene products, and instability in their living situation. More than 53% of students in the Baltimore County Public School System are living in poverty. When they must overcome the added barriers poverty raises before them, learning and achieving to their fullest potential becomes nearly impossible.
The Student Support Network was created, and persists, to improve the lives of Baltimore County school children living in poverty. For students in 14 district schools, Student Support Network’s onsite Rooms of Support serve not only as school stores (where everything is free!), but also as havens that provide things they need to better fit in, concentrate, and succeed.
Hardships don’t exist only at school, nor do the services of the Student Support Network. When we help a family rebuild after a fire, invite students on a field trip to a college, or advocate for systemic change with local elected officials, our Network of caring volunteers and partners shows students that they are not alone, and improves the lives of our young neighbors in small but meaningful ways.
The problem of poverty is massive, systemic, and far beyond the reach of one nonprofit organization to solve. We believe, however, that when many people come together to do a little bit, we can help others a lot. This is the approach of the Student Support Network.
In December, 2015, upon learning of a need to assist five students in dire need at Loch Raven High School, Laurie Taylor-Mitchell shared a request for four volunteers to help her collect warm clothes and a few holiday gifts. She was overwhelmed with the outpouring of support from her community! 128 individuals collectively provided food, laundry detergent and toiletries, winter clothing, sheets and blankets, and dozens of holiday gifts for twenty five families, including several experiencing homelessness.
This drive opened Laurie’s eyes to the amount of need right in her Baltimore County backyard, and she used the momentum to create a Room of Support at Loch Raven High School, and soon formalized as a 501(c)3 – the Loch Raven Network.
As word spread of the ways the Loch Raven Network assisted students living in poverty, Laurie received requests from counselors and administrators at nearby schools for similar programs. The fledgling organization soon opened Rooms of Support at Parkville High School and Pine Grove Middle School, and changed its name to the Student Support Network to reflect its reach.
As poverty rates have continued to increase, and the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the economy, the Network has expanded to keep up with the growing need. Now in 14 schools, with many more on the waiting list, the Student Support Network bridges the gap that still exists once low-income families and the public school system have exhausted the resources they have to set children up for success.
Our vision is that every student in Baltimore County Public Schools would arrive to school each day, equipped with the materials, nutrition, and peace of mind they need to learn and be well. We will keep growing and advocating for the needs of students until this vision becomes a reality! We invite you to become part of, or deepen your role in the Student Support Network story.