Edit: This release has been updated to reflect current numbers from the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund.

Teen Health Mississippi (THMS) may focus on getting Mississippi youth access and resources for high-quality sex education and youth-friendly healthcare, but we are also community-driven, and right now, our communities need us.

Half of all American children have experienced at least one traumatic event in their lifetime. COVID-19 is a form of trauma. People who have experienced trauma are three times more likely to experience depression, and trauma also impacts the decisions young people make about their sexual expression. People who have experienced trauma are four times more likely to develop an STI, may not have used condoms during the last time they had sex and have higher rates of unplanned pregnancy. 

During this trying time, we want to support our communities and their young people by connecting them to the resources they may need, including financial resources. To that end, Teen Health Mississippi (THMS) launched a COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund to help youth across the state whom the pandemic has affected negatively. THMS has received 4,000 applications to date and awarded a total of $11,000 to more than 150 youth across the state. 

“We want to support youth so they can make informed, healthy decisions that positively impact their life trajectory. When youth make decisions because they are hungry or lack shelter, they may respond in ways that address the immediate need but that may jeopardize their overall well-being,” says Teen Health Mississippi Executive Director Hope Crenshaw.

We are now looking to raise $100,000 to impact more Mississippi youth.

Below are the findings from the THMS impact report. See a PDF of the report here

COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund 

Youth Impact Report

Total of youth applications to date: 4,000

  • We received applications from youth in all 82 Mississippi Counties and 122 cities and towns.
  • 63% of applicants indicated that they were experiencing chronic/episodic food insecurities. For some young people, their situation had been worsened by the recent tornado outbreaks.  
  • 41% indicated that they were experiencing chronic or episodic homelessness.  
  • 32% of applicants indicated that they lack the proper technology. Many of these youth are worried about failing out of school because distance learning assignments require a computer and internet access.
  • 29.3%  of applicants indicated that they had transportation barriers. In rural areas, youth require transportation to access basic necessities or need to travel to work. Uber doesn’t exist everywhere. People rely on “gas” money. And if your community has Uber, it doesn’t mean that you have access to it. 
  • 4.7% of applicants indicated that they were an expectant or parenting youth, and 12.5% of applicants who indicated they were an expectant or parenting youth were seeking baby care items (i.e. diapers, wipes, and baby formula).
  • 12.4% of applicants indicated that they were experiencing chronic or episodic food insecurity.
  • 2.8% of applicants indicated that they had life threatening medical conditions.
  • 13.3% of applicants indicated that they lacked the proper medical care supplies (i.e. personal protective equipment, or PPE, and medicines to treat conditions such as lupus, diabetes, cancer, etc).   

Total amount of awards to date: $11,000

  • Awards have been made to over 150 young people in 24 Mississippi counties and 31 cities and towns.

Our Funding Impact

  • 56% of total funds distributed were awarded to young people experiencing chronic/episodic nutritional insecurity.
  • 23% of total funds distributed were awarded to expectant and parenting teens in need of baby care supplies.
  • 15% of total funds distributed were awarded to young people with life-threatening medical conditions for purchase of medications or treatment.
  • 5% of total funds distributed were awarded to young people experiencing chronic/episodic homelessness

Voices of Mississippi Youth

“Before the pandemic hit, I was able to support my son and myself with no issues, and now we barely have food. I haven’t been approved for food stamps at all. We have one family here who has a full house and can’t assist us. Rent is due, and I do not have the full amount. My landlord is giving me until the end of the month to collect before we’re evicted. I can’t afford a sitter because I’m not working.”

“I’m a single high school parent who is at the end of the road to graduating. This has really been a rough year for me. I’ve been living from house to house, not knowing if we will be able to lay our heads in a clean environment and a place with a bathtub. But I keep pushing through. I’m struggling to make sure we eat every day, but when the pandemic started, it got worse for my son and me. I have to figure out ways to get us around.” 

“Since COVID-19, my mother has had to move my cousin and her 2-year-old son in with us, and she already takes care of my grandmother, who is in a wheelchair. I just got a job, and I have diabetes. My mom has been giving me her medicine to help me get it under control. I have not been getting my medication, and I don’t want to tell my mother.”

“I barely can eat, and I am tired of not having a stable place to live. I’m stressed. People are trying to pressure me into doing things I know are wrong, and that will only get me in trouble.”

“I  can no longer stay on my college campus and received no refund. Grocery is more expensive, and my university is where I mostly ate because the school fed me, and now I have no food or money to get food. I also cannot afford wifi at home to complete my school work since all of my classes are online now.”

“I have a newborn baby who I barely can now provide for because I have been laid off work, and I don’t have rent money or gas money. My baby needs clothes and everything. Please help!”

For more information about the relief fund, email contact@teenhealthms.org. Donate to the emergency fund here.

3 comments on “COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund Awards 150 Youth from Across Mississippi”

  1. 1
    June 4, 2020 – Tianamen Square to LaFayette Square – Tenacious Change LLC on June 8, 2020

    […] response Teen Health Mississippi started the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund for youth. Their goal is to award at least $100,000 in emergency relief to Mississippi youth. To […]

  2. 2
    Teen Health Mississippi tries to help youth survive during coronavirus | The New York Press News Agency on June 26, 2020

    […] jobs as a result of coronavirus closures, increasing the financial strain on their families. Almost two-thirds of youth said they were experiencing food insecurity. Others said they were homeless. Some could no […]

  3. 3
    Inform[H]er Feature: Teen Health Mississippi | Mississippi Today on July 9, 2020

    […] To address those basic needs, like food, shelter and medical supplies disrupted during COVID, Teen Health Mississippi launched an Emergency Relief Fund, that’s now up to $90,000 after initial grant from local Women’s Foundation, and more recently a grant from Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey.  […]

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