More than 2,000 students in Denver Public Schools were homeless at some point during the last school year.
That's approximately the same number as each of the past five years but Anna Theisen, program manager at the DPS office dedicated to helping these students, tells Colorado Matters that the children are generally on the street longer than they have been in the past. Theisen's office helps them get basic school supplies and health care through a federal program, but the students have other essential needs that can't be met with the federal funding.
That's where a new partnership between DPS and a technology startup called Purposity comes in. Potential donors sign up with Purposity, then get text messages once a week inviting them to purchase goods like bedding, a space heater or clothing to help specific students in Theisen's program. The text messages connect to Amazon, where donors can buy the goods and get them delivered to the school district or directly to the recipients.
Purposity is also working with the Volunteers of America Bill Daniels Center to get things veterans need, and Mercy Housing to help low-income seniors; soon they'll add The Gathering Place and Urban Peak to that lineup, according to Purposity's Jamie Rife. They're working in other cities as well. The largest donor base is in Atlanta, where about 1,600 people have signed up to receive text messages. The startup relies on local foundations and companies for its operating costs and does not take a portion of the donations.