MESH: Our History & What We Do

The Problem

Homelessness is a significant problem in St John’s County, and it affects a surprising number of students who are Pre-K to Grade 12.

The McKinney-Vento Act defines a homeless student as one who lacks a fixed, regular or adequate nighttime residence. This includes but is not limited to living in hotel, car, public area not meant for habitation, sub-par housing, doubled-up with others, or homeless shelter.

As each school year progresses, the St. Johns County School Department (SJCSD) continuously identifies students who meet this definition, some of whom become lost to follow-up (inactive) as the year progresses. Also, a subset of the total is considered to be unaccompanied youth (UAY). These are students who do not reside with a parent or legal guardian and are homeless, although they may be sheltered.

Typically, by the end of a school year approximately about 800 students are identified as being homeless.

As a point-in-time example, in December 2019 there were 526 identified homeless students in SJC:
• 55% Pre-K-5th
• 45% 6th-12th
• Of these, 13% were inactive and 20% UAY.

The History of MESH

Founded by a group of concerned St. Johns County residents in about August 2018, MESH’s initial goal was to focus on supporting juniors and seniors. The unique financial needs of those approaching graduation are often not met by existing programs and contributions.

In May 2019, MESH became a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. MESH’s mission was expanded to include Pre-K to grade 12.

What MESH Does

MESH is a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization that supports homeless and at risk for becoming homeless students who are primarily, but not exclusively, identified and referred by the St. Johns County School District A.S.S.I.S.T. Program. Among the things for which MESH provides financial support are:

• Academic needs and activities
• Extracurricular activities
• Summer camps and other enrichment programs
• Daily living expenses
• Short-term, crisis housing

In addition, MESH provides financial grants to other community organizations that meet the needs of students.

MESH also attempts to identify responsible adults to mentor students. We refer them to the Retired Senior Volunteer Program of St Johns County (RSVP).

Please contact MESH for more information.