Hope for homeless teens could happen with new academy


OWENSBORO, Ky (WEHT) – It’s estimated that roughly 300 students in Daviess County are considered homeless by federal standards. That’s why a local group is working to establish the Empowerment Academy, also known as EA. 

Donna Lanham was one of the first to see the need in the community.  A longtime educator, Lanham also served as the liaison for the Homeless Population Title 1 program. “In my four years as Title 1 Liaison, I’ve never cried as much as I cried while serving there,” Lanham said.  “I remember doing a home visitation where one of our students was in a small trailer with no floor taking care of her siblings. Their mother was in jail, and they didn’t have a parent to take care of them. I just had such a hard time understanding how kids could be treated so poorly and left essentially homeless. These kids ‘couch-hopping’ poses a huge problem for them to complete school. They seldom graduate once they become homeless, and then what happens to them?”

“Need for adequate housing for high school students has been in our community for a very long time,” said founding Empowerment Academy board member Vicki Quisenberry. “I first heard of the need through Donna Lanham in my role with the Foundation for DCPS. Once we realized this need was not just a DCPS problem, but a community issue, we worked to establish the Empowerment Academy, a 501(c)3 non—profit organization. Education and adequate life skills are crucial not only to students in need, but vitally important to the success of our community as a whole. We can’t let these kids fall through the cracks.”

The group purchased property on December 3, and is actively raising money to build a two-story, 19-bedroom home on Ohio Street in Owensboro. Some volunteers have donated materials and labor to build the future academy. Board Member Brian Wilborn says, “We are asking generous community members to help us begin construction of the building by purchasing bricks for $100, pavers for $500 or cornerstones for $10,000. Of course, we will accept donations at any level.”

To donate to the “Merry Brick-mas” event, please visit this website.

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