An Emotional Graduation for Covenant House Youth
An emotional graduation day for the Covenant House Academy (CHA) students was a testament to the extraordinary obstacles that many youth in Detroit have to overcome to obtain an education.
Covenant House Academy is an alternative charter school in Detroit and Grand Rapids, an addition to the services provided by Covenant House Michigan.
As a part of Covenant House’s 31 sites across the U.S., Canada and Latin America, Covenant House Michigan has a twenty year history of serving homeless youth, and in 2010, CHA’s Central location in Detroit was built. Approximately 25% of the student body at CHA experience homelessness and are provided with shelter, food, clothing, identification, and jobs to help them complete their education and end the cycle of homelessness.
CHA enrolls more than 900 students per year and offers a combination of online and in-class learning. CHA heavily focuses on student retention. Providing extracurricular activities contingent on academic performance, students have a greater incentive to continue their academic programs. Events such as senior prom and sports teams help motivate students to continue showing up.
CHA students face numerous obstacles that make traditional public school out of reach. Many CHA students have jobs, children, special education needs, or are the first generation in their family to receive a high school diploma. In June 2017, more than 85% of CHA graduates took advantage of Detroit’s free two year community college program, studying subjects like social work so they can give back.
Covenant House Academy’s philosophy focuses on credit recovery, helping students gain confidence in their academics. There is rarely any mention of grade level which helps students alleviate self-consciousness about being at different grade levels from others in their age group.
Available 365 days a year to youth ages 16-26, the teaching staff at CHA is unique. All of the academy’s staff are trained to provide additional support to students who exhibit mental health concerns. CHA provides “unconditional love to everyone who knocks on their door”, says Community & Engagement Liaison, Terasa Ragland. “If Covenant House Academy cannot enroll a student due to age, we never let someone walk out without useful resources”.
Education plays a huge role in eliminating homelessness. Our goal is for youth to walk out of Covenant House’s doors more secure than when they walked in.