NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Twenty college-bound homeless students are receiving laptops and nearly $2,000 each from the first-ever Win Scholarship Fund established with a donation from "Live with Kelly and Ryan" host Kelly Ripa and husband Mark Consuelos.
Earlier this year, the couple donated half a million dollars to Win, the largest provider of shelter and services to homeless mothers and their children in New York City, to help homeless families cope with the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a year transformed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Win students have made remarkable achievements. Officials say 60% of graduating high school seniors at Win are beginning this fall at colleges nationwide, including Syracuse University, Clark Atlanta University, and Portland State University, and funding and laptops from Ripa and Consuelos will be critical to helping students overcome the barriers created by the pandemic.
College-bound students experiencing homelessness face heightened challenges to accessing technology, books, transportation, and other essentials that often aren't covered by financial aid.
"Mark and I are so excited to help these students in whatever small way we can," Ripa said. "Starting college is a pivotal moment for so many, and being a part of this time is really special for our family. We know each of these scholarship recipients has a bright future ahead and we can't wait to see what amazing things they accomplish."
Win operates 11 family shelters and three supportive housing facilities across New York City. In the past year, Win served nearly 9,000 homeless people - including more than 5,000 children - helping them to break the cycle of homelessness.
"Too often, students living in shelter are derailed on their path to graduation by unforeseen expenses, Win President and CEO Christine Quinn said. "We are so grateful to Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos for supporting our students through their freshman year, and helping to make their college dreams a reality."
Housing instability can disrupt a child's healthy socio-emotional and cognitive development, with implications for mental health, behavioral health, and success in life. Through Camp Win, an immersive summer-long program, and other programming, Win works to provide a safe, engaging environment for children in shelter.
"Twenty of Win's college-bound students will not only go to college with their own laptop, thanks to Kelly and Mark, but now will be able to pay for critical textbooks, technology, and transportation, costs that are often insurmountable barriers for homeless students even if they receive financial aid," Quinn said. "Thanks to their generous donation, these students no longer have to worry about buying books or paying for a ride home, and can focus on what's the most important: succeeding in their studies."
Win houses 10% of all the homeless families in New York City every night, and the donation is helping to ensure that homeless children have every technology need met so they can excel in these times of virtual learning.
"Learning remotely under the best of circumstances is very challenging," Ripa and Conseulos said in a statement. "Without the proper technology, it is simply impossible."
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