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  • Writer's pictureKaren Young

MO interns get $1 million out to homeless students

Welcome to Take Action Tuesday!

From the Missouri Independent, via News From The States, comes a story of three legislative interns, Santino Bono, Alanna Nguyen and Dylan Powers Cody (Santino Bono (left) and Alanna Nguyen pictured above, with legislative assistant Dustin Bax).

They went above and beyond their job descriptions, got to work, and helped deliver more than a million dollars to schools to help homeless students.

This was pandemic relief money from the American Rescue Plan.  It has to be claimed by September, and there are several million more dollars waiting to be claimed.

The interns cross-checked spreadsheets to pinpoint school districts who had not yet claimed their funds, and started calling those schools to alert them to the money. Most of the schools didn’t know that the money to aid students experiencing homelessness was available (and $6.1 million remains unclaimed).  Nearly a million dollars was earmarked for the city of St. Louis alone. 

The money can be used for a range of services for homeless students — from washers and dryers to temporary hotel stays, food, fuel cards and backpacks.

The Independent article devoted a lot of ink to the numerous excuses made by the person whose actual paid job it was to get those funds out the door: Tera Bock, director of homeless education for Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. I won’t waste your time with them.  It does seem that, unsurprisingly, the GOP-run state was happy to let the money expire.  Bock claims to be prioritizing the project now, as the interns’ tenure is ending.

Santino Bono expected that as an intern, he might spend his time getting coffee.  He told the Independent, “To know that I could have potentially a much bigger impact on actual students, as a student myself, I’m really proud of that.”  As he should be.  I hope these interns think about careers in public service.  We could use their energy!



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