The Larry H. & Gail Miller Family Foundation and the Huntsman Foundation made a joint donation of $1 million to the Davis Education Foundation to construct five teen resource centers for at-risk students.“It will impact students in ways we previously have been unable to help with,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Dan Linford said.
The significant investment was celebrated during a special board meeting on September 6.“If we can invest in certain aspects that help them get on their feet and become stable and go forward, that will make all the difference in the end,” said David Huntsman, president of the Huntsman Foundation. “We see it as helping provide (for) them today so they can go forward and make great contributions to society in the long run.
The million-dollar donation directly contributed to the building of teen resource centers at Northridge High, Layton High, Woods Cross High, Mountain High, and the Renaissance Academy, bringing the number of centers operated by Davis Education Foundation to six.
Three additional centers are planned at Bountiful High, Syracuse High and Viewmont High.
The teen resource centers offer safe spaces at school for at-risk students experiencing housing insecurity or homelessness. The centers allow students to shower, do laundry, study, eat and access critical resources.An estimated 1,300 students are experiencing homelessness in Davis School District.
"Despite the challenges that they are faced with every day, they are trying their best to complete their education and to make something of themselves. That alone is worthy of our effort," said Gail Miller, chair of the Larry H. & Gail Miller Family Foundation. "It is imperative that we support these teen homeless centers."
Counselors and family service workers meet with students one-on-one in the centers to assess their needs, help them graduate from high school, and complete college applications.“It has allowed us to give every child hope. Hope for a better and brighter future, level that playing ground and provide opportunities that may have been missed due to circumstances out of their control,” said Jodi Lunt, executive director of Davis Education Foundation.
The first teen resource center opened at Clearfield High in April 2021.“From the moment I walked through the Clearfield High School Teen Center, I knew it was important for us to be involved in this great work,” Miller said.
The involvement of both the Miller Family Foundation and the Huntsman Foundation also helped highlight teen centers at the state level, creating a public/private partnership. Thanks to their support and State of Utah Representative Steve Eliason, lawmakers approved $3.5 million in funding for teen resource centers.
Districts in the state can apply for a grant through the Utah State Board of Education to access a portion of the funds to assist in building teen resource centers in their schools.
Lunt says the district will break ground this fall on an 8,000-square-foot, 16-bed teen resource center that will provide overnight and long-term housing and resource opportunities.