Matthew’s Voice Project (MVP) is a registered non-profit 501c3 that focuses its efforts on assisting students in our public schools who are identified as experiencing homelessness. Much of MVP’s focus is on unaccompanied youth (identified by the school system as living on their own with very little to no support), providing them with the support and encouragement they need to complete high school and graduate.
As of December 2021 area district liaisons had approximately 438 homeless students combined in our local area; families and unaccompanied youth living in shelters, cars, hotels, campgrounds, garages or doubled up with family and friends.
To help shed a light on these issues, Fargo Public Schools identified 178 students, West Fargo Public Schools identified 127 total students experiencing homelessness, with Moorhead Public Schools noting 133 homeless students during the month of December (2021). The numbers are different between the three schools, but the need is great across the board.
While our public school systems receive federal grants to administer to the needs of homeless students, all of their day-to-day needs are not met through this program. The federal program is designed to take care of the basic school needs for the students (supplies, clothing and meals while at school). This is where MVP steps in to help.
In the beginning, MVP worked with area photographers, retail businesses and stylists to arrange for portraits for graduating seniors who would otherwise not have the opportunity. The portrait sessions not only helped create a positive experience in helping boost the seniors’ self-confidence and pride, they also helped build awareness for the homeless youth in our community. Over the past several years, MVP has not only continued to provide Senior High School portraits for these youth but has also expanded its reach by collecting donations to assist with clothing, gas cards, food gift certificates, medical items, housing items, personal hygiene, phones, pillows, blankets, etc. These seemingly simple things are part of a normal experience for a student who is not homeless, but for our students experiencing homelessness, these would be impossible without the help of the community.
Our goal is to continue to assist our area homeless students with even more pressing day-to-day needs including but not limited to:
• Quality shoes to last them through the school year
• Clothes for school – brands, styles other kids are wearing. They want to fit in!
• Dress clothes for work – many take server jobs where black pants and dress shoes are required
• Cell phones and pre-paid minutes – most of these students don’t have phones or lack the ability to pay for them
• Technology needs such as jump drives to store homework to transfer between computers
• YMCA memberships
• Gas cards and Uber, Lyft, or taxi fares for transportation to their jobs
• Laptops for school
• Necessary tools to help ease the pressure and help them stay focused on school and graduate.
Homelessness is not just a problem within the Fargo, West Fargo and Moorhead Public School systems, but also in other communities in our area. Our goal is to build up the MVP program in Fargo, West Fargo and Moorhead first and then expand to other school districts as resources become available. MVP is a registered non-profit 501c3 and donations can be taken directly on this page or by emailing us directly at email@example.com with additional questions or options for donating.