Donor offers match for homeless student fund

An anonymous donor has offered $10,000 in match funds for the Students in Transition program in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District.

The program, which offers free meals, transportation, school supplies and other assistance to students who do not have permanent housing, is soliciting donations for its operations. If the school district raises $10,000 from independent donors, the philanthropist will match it one-to-one for a total of $20,000.

The program is funded by grants through the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. This year, the funds were exhausted by October, so the school district is hoping to cover the gap with donations from the public.

There were 185 students enrolled in the Students in Transition program as of August 2015, a number expected to increase over the course of the school year, said Pegge Erkeneff, the spokeswoman for the school district.

“When it’s colder out, numbers are on the rise a little bit,” Erkeneff said. “Last fall, it wasn’t so cold. We’ve had upwards of 300 students before.”

One of the difficulties is that the program cannot help the students secure housing, Erkeneff said. There are currently no shelters for the homeless on the peninsula beside the LeeShore Center, which is specifically for women and children who are victims of domestic violence, and the Friendship Mission, which is only for men 21 and older. The school district can only help students with school lunches, clothing, transportation and other academic-related issues, and cannot help them in the summer, when school is out, she said.

“(Housing) is the one thing we can’t help with,” Erkeneff said. “We can’t help them with food or a hotel room or anything like that.”

Donations in kind only help so much, as the program can’t target what individual students’ needs are, Erkeneff said. For example, if someone donates a child’s coat but all the students enrolled at that time are teenagers, that won’t do the homeless student any good, she said. Monetary donations are easier to work with.

The donor, who lives out of state but visits Alaska regularly for the fishing season, learned about the struggles homeless students in Alaska face and contacted Erkeneff with the offer.

“That will help us through the end of the school year,” Erkeneff said. “We have some grant money, and that’s less than what it’s been. Donations and generosity from the community have also helped.”

The donations can be given on the school district’s website or at the district office in Soldotna.

Reach Elizabeth Earl at

More in News

Kenai City Manager Paul Ostrander speaks at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Kenai Municipal Airport on Friday, Aug. 6, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. A kiosk that will offer educational programming and interpretive products about the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is coming to the airport. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsua Clarion)
Wildlife refuge kiosk coming to airport

Kenai National Wildlife Refuge stickers, T-shirts, magnets, travel stamps and enamel pins will be available.

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. (CDC)
5 more COVID deaths reported

The total nationwide fatalities surpass population of Alaska.

Velda Geller fills goodie bags at the Kenai Senior Center on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021 for next weekend’s drive-through trick-or-treat event. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
‘This has been a lifesaver’

Seniors seek human connection as pandemic continues.

Kenai City Hall on Feb. 20, 2020, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
‘A very slippery slope that we need to be careful of’

Approval of library grant postponed after Kenai council requests to preview book purchases

This undated photo released by the Alaska State Department of Public Safety shows Robin Pelkey just before her 18th birthday. The remains of a woman known for 37 years only as Horseshoe Harriet, one of 17 victims of a notorious Alaska serial killer, have been identified through DNA profiling as Robin Pelkey, authorities said Friday, Oct. 22, 2021. (Alaska State Department of Public Safety via AP)
DNA match IDs serial killer’s victim after 37 years

Robin Pelkey was 19 and living on the streets of Anchorage when she was killed by Robert Hansen in the early 1980s, investigators said.

A moose is photographed in Kalifornsky, Alaska, in July 2020. (Peninsula Clarion file)
Illegal moose harvest down from past 5 years

The large majority of moose this year were harvested from North and South Kasilof River areas.

Renee Behymer and Katelyn Behymer (right) of Anchorage win this week’s vaccine lottery college scholarship sweepstakes. (Photo provided)
Dillingham and Anchorage residents win 6th vaccine lottery

“Get it done,” one winner said. “Protect us all, protect our elders and our grandchildren.”

Most Read