Less than 24 hours following her announcement that rental assistance funds were immediately available to eligible families, School-Linked Services Coordinator Nicole Steward forwarded four applications, impacting 12 MUSD students, to the Silicon Valley Independent Learning Center (SVILC) for review.
Serving students experiencing homelessness is part of Steward's multi-faceted role as MUSD’s SLS Coordinator. In collaboration with SVILC and the City of Milpitas Housing Department, she has facilitated over $130,000 in rent relief to 28 families, serving 70 students.
“It’s the job of the educators, the teachers, principals, and assistant principals to make sure students get educated and they graduate,” Steward explained. “It’s my job to see if there are any barriers to that education and then I work with our community groups, parents and schools to remove those barriers so students can focus on their learning and be successful. It’s really a beautiful partnership."
In total, 406 MUSD students have been identified under the Federal McKinney-Vento Act, which provides stability and ensures access to a free and adequate education for all children, including preschool-aged children, regardless of their housing status.
As part of her team’s efforts, Steward, who received a Certificate of Commendation from the County Board of Supervisors, has made 57 home visits and issued countless family support referrals that assist families in areas of academics, behavioral/mental health, food, health care, housing, student pro-social/community and Tier II behavioral/mental health.
During the 2020-21 school year, MUSD Staff has donated over $10,000 for gift cards and family needs, while the Milpitas community has donated an additional $11,000 to help serve local families.
Steward has garnered support from groups such as Hope for the Unhoused, which has led a food pickup and delivery initiative; Milpitas Community Educational Endowment, which contributed over $50,000 worth of computer charging stations; Voices of Milpitas, which collected school supplies and winter bags for students; and MUSD’s Travel and Tourism Academy, which organized self-care bags and a GoFundMe for vulnerable families.