Life House, Community School Collaborative partner during pandemic |

Life House, Community School Collaborative partner during pandemic

Baihly Warfield
Updated: November 12, 2020 10:35 PM

Much of our youth is spent in school. But right now, many youth aren't going there physically.

Not having that space can be a barrier to connecting with teens who might be at risk. But a new partnership between the Duluth Community School Collaborative and Life House is there to bridge the gap and create change. 

"This is a time where I feel prevention is critical," Life House Executive Director Jordon Johnson said. 

The nonprofit is known for its work with homeless youth. But they would rather there aren't any. So they also try to do prevention work with at-risk youth. 

"What does at risk look like during this pandemic right now?" Angel Nustad-Peluso said. "It looks like a lot more kids and a lot of kids that are just struggling with needing to have that social-emotional connection with someone else. And what will happen to them if they don't have that?"

Nustad-Peluso is the program director for the Duluth Community School Collaborative. They are in Myers Wilkins Elementary, Lincoln Park Middle School and Denfeld High School. 

They run a popular program called DASH, Denfeld After School Happenings. It's a place for kids to hang out after class, have a meal and get tutoring if they need it. They can't meet in person right now, but they want to make sure teens know there is still support. 

"I think that's what this year has taught us about is being flexible and adaptable and adjust as needed, and Life House staff do that really well," Johnson said.

Life House has an education case manager on staff, and they recently purchased a building across the street for more learning. It will also offer a good spot for socially distant social connection in small groups. 

"The cool thing is that we're going to be exposing young people to all that Life House has to offer so that we can expand our continuum of services too," Nustad-Peluso said. 

That includes things like guidance for the GED process if a teen doesn't finish high school or help finding employment and housing. Life House works with young adults up to age 25. 

"We don't want to be the people that jump in and try to presume we know what's best for young people without hearing from them first," Nustad-Peluso said. "And this is an opportunity for us to hear from them again." 


Baihly Warfield

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