/ Modified sep 27, 2013 11:14 a.m.

Tucson Nonprofit Helping Homeless Teens Stay in School

Youth On Their Own provides students with school supplies, guidance, shelter to have them concentrate on getting a good education.

In Arizona there are thousands of teens and young adults who do not have a permanent place to call home.

Arizona has a higher high school drop out rate than any other state, according to a national drop out report by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education published in January.

Homeless and unaccompanied youth are among those who are most at risk for dropping out of high school.

Youth On Their Own is a local nonprofit organization that helps high school students graduate. Its mission is to reduce some of the stress that comes from lacking a permanent stable home, by providing guidance, school supplies, food and clothing to teens who are enrolled in school.

"Our mission is to help kids graduate...stay in school....graduate high school" said Faith Carrabis, development director of YOTO. "But we also want to empower young people on their own to become positive and protective members of our community."

YOTO gets teens of various backgrounds, who come from different circumstances, but the needs are the same.

"A lot of people have the misconception that we have homeless youth that are sleeping in their car or underneath bridges," she said. "While that does occur, youth homelessness is the kid that is couch hopping from friend's home to friend's home."

A lot of YOTO kids end up living with an older sibling or a grandparent after being kicked out from home, many, because of lifestyle choices, such as being LGBT. Carrabis said they've also had refugees, who lost their parents in war in their native country, and were left with no place to go.

The organization was founded in 1986 by a counselor at Amphitheater High School, and helped about 1,200 students last year.

American Graduate segments were produced in corporation with Tucson Values Teachers.

American Graduate 2013 main page.

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