2021 National Summit on Youth Homelessness

We understand that a virtual event isn’t quite the same as an in-person one, but we are still committed to providing you with meaningful and rich content. This virtual event will be accessed from the comfort of your own computer and will provide a much-needed respite from the daily “work from home” grind we’re all experiencing!

Breakout Tracks

  • Advanced Practice Track: Hot topics for those who have been doing the work for several years.
  • Nonprofit CEO Track: Peer-to-peer learning on topics that nonprofit CEOs are grappling with.
  • Education Practice Track: Early childhood, K-12, and higher education co-convened with SchoolHouse Connection
  • Prevention Track: Strategies to prevent experiences of homelessness among youth
Register for the Summit

Day One: Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Session times are Eastern Standard Time (EST)

11:00 – 11:05 am: Welcome
Melinda Giovengo, Board Chair, National Network for Youth & CEO, YouthCare

11:05 -11:10 am: Special Remarks
Baker McKenzie

11:10 -11:15 am: Special Remarks
Darla Bardine, Executive Director, National Network for Youth

11:15 am –  12:15 pm: Hear From the Experts: National Youth Advisory Council
This session will explore best practices to engage and provide holistic care for youth and young adults in the age of Covid-19. It will also examine how leaders and organizations can embrace and elevate equity and inclusion practices to more effectively partner with and support young leaders in our work to eliminate youth homelessness in this country.

12:15 –1:15 pm: You may ask yourself, can one person really make a difference? I say, YES!
Darla Bardine, Executive Director, National Network for Youth
Each one of you is vital to reducing both the incidence and severity of homelessness among young people in America.  You are powerful — because your lived experiences and expertise can and does shape the way policies and practices are created. Your passion helps us all to come together as one and the energy we create as one allows us to achieve our collective policy goals.

1:15 – 1:30 pm: Keynote: Senator Kyrsten Sinema

Kyrsten knows firsthand the challenges everyday Arizonans face. Born in Tucson, Kyrsten went through some tough times growing up. Her family struggled to make ends meet, and for a while, they were even homeless. But they got by thanks to family, church, and hard work. Kyrsten’s childhood experience showed her the power of hard work and the importance of helping others.

Education was Kyrsten’s ticket to a better life. With the help of student loans, academic scholarships, and financial aid, she went to BYU and then ASU, where she now teaches as a proud Sun Devil.

After graduating, she worked with students and families in Arizona who faced some of the same challenges she did. Kyrsten’s commitment to service led her to the Arizona Legislature, where she passed a law to help veterans get in–state tuition at all Arizona public universities cracked down on sex trafficking and advocated for children’s health care and education.

Now as Arizona’s senior Senator, Kyrsten works every day to deliver for Arizona families – helping veterans get the benefits they’ve earned, creating good–paying jobs for Arizonans, and keeping Americans safe at home and abroad.

Kyrsten feels a duty to serve and give back to the communities and country that gave her so much. She got her shot at the American dream, and she’ll keep working to make sure all Arizonans get theirs too.

1:30 – 2:30 pm: Break

Breakout Tracks

2:30 -3:30 pm: Advanced Practice Track: Finding a Safe Place in a New Country: Understanding and Serving Immigrant Youth in Your Community
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Baltimore, MD

You are in a new country, you don’t speak the language and you are not sure where you are going to sleep or when you will be able to eat. This breakout session will dive into the challenges unaccompanied immigrant youth face and their strengths while exploring ways in which service providers can successfully engage this population, accurately identify needs, and collaborate efficiently to optimize outcomes. This session will also highlight policy issues and some recommendations.

2:30 -3:30 pm: Education Practice Track: Higher Education & Homelessness: Barriers, Strategies, and FAFSA Support
SchoolHouse Connection

The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting many students’ decisions about higher education. College enrollment and FAFSA completion numbers have gone down more than 20% compared to last year, dropping even more in lower-income communities. Yet some form of postsecondary education remains the surest permanent way out of homelessness. This session will focus on unique barriers, including the FAFSA, that youth experiencing homelessness face accessing and succeeding in higher education. We’ll provide practical strategies to assist youth during the pandemic, hear youth perspectives, and review examples of best institutional practices to get students to and through higher education.

3:35 -3:55 pm: Magician: Michael Mage

A Two-time award-winning Cleveland magician, Michael Mage, is known as a comedian stuck in a magician’s shoes. His interest in magic began at the early age of 10, and since then he has made a full-time living performing it while specializing in interactive comedy entertainment.

Breakout Tracks

4:00 – 5:00 pm: Advanced Practice Track: Leading Through COVID-19: Panel Discussion

The COVID-19 pandemic forced organizations to retool their programs and reassess how they serve young people. This facilitated panel discussion will focus on how community-based youth providers have been addressing the ongoing crisis in our collective pursuit to prevent and respond to youth homelessness. There will be plenty of time for Q&A and for other providers to share.


Brennon Graham, President + Chief Executive Officer
Growing Home Southeast, Inc., South Carolina


Bonita Campbell, MS, LSW, CTP, Service Area Vice President
Lighthouse Youth Services, Ohio

Chris Bicknell, Executive Director
New Beginnings, Maine

David Baker, Youth Systems Director
YMCA Youth & Family Services in San Diego, California

4:00 – 5:00 pm: Education Practice Track: Supporting Graduation for Students Experiencing Homelessness, During Covid and Beyond
SchoolHouse Connection

This session will provide hands-on advice and strategies for the education of youth experiencing homelessness, including:
  • Strategies schools are using to help keep students engaged in school
  • Strategies schools are using to help students be successful with distance learning
  • College planning and transition during the pandemic
  • Thinking ahead to next year and helping students catch up and fill gaps
  • School-community partnerships to meet students’ basic needs

5:00 – 5:30 pm: Networking
Connect with your fellow passionate advocates and youth workers committed to preventing and ending youth and young adult homelessness. Come for the fun and connection.

Day Two: Thursday, March 25, 2021

10:00 am – 1:00 pm Virtual Hill Day
In advance, Summit attendees schedule meetings with their U.S. Senate and House representatives. At the Summit, NN4Y provides the hill day resources and time to prepare for these meetings.

1:00 -1:15 am: Keynote: Chairman John Yarmuth

Chairman John Yarmuth represents Kentucky’s Third Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Now in his eighth term, he has served as Chairman of the House Budget Committee since 2019. Yarmuth has been recognized for his work to improve education, expand access to affordable health care, and revitalize manufacturing in Louisville.

Born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, Yarmuth graduated from Atherton High School and Yale University. He and his wife, Cathy, have one son, Aaron, who is the owner and editor of LEO Weekly.

1:15 – 1:30 pm: Break

1:30 – 3:00 pm: Federal Agency Roundtable Discussion
Federal agency staff from six different federal agencies will discuss new and ongoing national initiatives to prevent and respond to youth and young adult homelessness. This annual facilitated discussion will produce at least one commitment for the coming year from each participating agency to support young people experiencing homelessness. Summit attendees will also have the opportunity to ask questions directly to the participating federal staff. Participating federal agencies include:

  • Debbie Powell, Acting Associate Commissioner, Family and Youth Services Bureau, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

  • Ruth E. Ryder, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Formula Grants, U.S. Department of Education (ED)

  • Jennifer Kemp, Director, Division of Youth Services, U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)

  • Ricco Hall, Grants Management Specialist, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)

  • Nili Soni, Division Director, Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

  • Katy Miller, Regional Director, U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH)

3:00 – 3:20 pm: Break

Breakout Tracks

3:20 -4:20 pm: Prevention Track: The Upstream Project, Hopkins: Emerging Lessons for School, Service Provider, and Research Partnerships
Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago

In 2017, the Pohlad Family Foundation funded MoveFwd, in partnership with Hopkins Public Schools (HPS) and Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, to develop, implement, and evaluate a pilot of the Upstream Project, a pioneering multi-tiered system of support model that aims to prevent youth homelessness and school dropout. The Upstream model has four core components: community collaboration, early identification through universal screening, service connections, and casework. Community collaboration relies on an active and engaged Steering Committee comprised of local stakeholders. The early identification component uses a universal screening survey in the junior and high schools to identify the students who are homeless or at risk of homelessness or school disengagement/dropout. HPS then connects students with priority service needs with MoveFwd, which provides casework and other resources to students and families. In this session, we describe how the Hopkins partners defined their roles and implemented each of the components of the Upstream model. We will also focus on the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented to the implementation of school-based homelessness prevention programs.

3:20 -4:20 pm: Nonprofit CEO Track: Where to start: How to turn DEI concepts into practice

Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY) service providers recognize the need to engage in deep dialogue, learning, and conversation on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) to improve outcomes for families, youth, and young adults.  In 2020 (and 2021), racial unrest in the country and community distrust of systems and programs work to create an environment where RHY, families, and communities are hesitant to seek services.  In this session, participants will be able to understand the key concepts of DEI, as well as discuss frameworks that organizations can use to move their DEI work forward.

Recognizing that DEI is a continual process that requires collaborative, multi-dimensional interventions, this session is an opportunity for organizations to be a part of a continual learning community that will continue to meet monthly to process their journey to DEI work.

4:20 – 4:35 pm: Break

Breakout Tracks

4:35 -5:35 pm: Prevention Track: Cross-Systems Youth Homelessness Prevention: Examples from Canada and the US
A Way Home Canada

Building upon pre- Summit online sessions, we will explore the important roles of systems in preventing youth homelessness. Building on earlier webinars that introduce the major shifts we’ve been making and grappling within Canada around youth homelessness prevention as a concept and in frontline practice, participants will be invited to explore the current state of systems that cause and prevent homelessness. Together we will imagine what an ideal future state would look like with examples drawn from both Canada and the United States and with a view to what roles the NN4Y can play in advancing youth homelessness prevention locally, state-wide, or at the federal level.

4:35 -5:35 pm: Nonprofit CEO Track: See. Learn. Do. REPEAT: Centering Youth Voice for Systems Change
Pride Action Tank, Chicago, IL

The child welfare, educational, and criminal justice systems collectively create a set of barriers and difficulties that disproportionately affect LGBTQ+ youth. There are few formal platforms for these systems to work together and rarely do they include young people. This interactive workshop will focus on how you can center youth voice through human-centered design (HCD). Participants in this workshop will test and apply tools for engaging youth to revamp existing policies, practices, and services and create new ones.

5:35 -5:45 pm: Closing Remarks
Melinda Giovengo, Board Chair, National Network for Youth & CEO, YouthCare