March 25, 2024

Challenges of Homelessness as a Minority Youth

Nurturing Dreams During Black History Month:

Navigating the challenges of homelessness as a minority youth can be daunting. Yet organizations like Covenant House New Jersey (CHNJ) offer a beacon of hope and opportunity. As a recipient of our services, our youth can be profoundly impacted by the enriching experiences we provide. These outings, tailored to celebrate diversity and empower young individuals, have played a pivotal role in shaping perspectives and aspirations. Black History Month particularly resonates with our community where over 64% of the youth we serve (in FY23) identifies as Black.

Journey of Discovery:

In March, our youth in Atlantic City embarked on a journey to the National Great Blacks In Wax Museum in Maryland which was a transformative experience. Despite initial restlessness during the van ride, the museum tour sparked a newfound curiosity and appreciation for education within them. Witnessing the achievements of African American inventors and hearing their stories inspired several youth to reevaluate their educational goals. The realization that education is a pathway to empowerment led two of them to make the decision to return to high school, setting their sights on a brighter future.

At the National Great Blacks In Wax Museum

Cultural Immersion:

CHNJ’s commitment to celebrating diversity was evident in our Black History Month scavenger hunt, where they had the opportunity to explore inventions by African Americans. This interactive workshop not only deepened their understanding of Black history but also instilled pride in their cultural heritage. By highlighting the contributions of Black innovators, CHNJ reaffirmed the importance of representation and inclusion. Understanding these contributions can foster a sense of belonging and empowerment among minority youth we serve.

Empowering Through Art and Music:

Participating in the Museum on the Move initiative allowed our youth to engage with the life and art of Alma Thomas. Thomas was a pioneering African American artist. Through hands-on art projects inspired by her work, they discovered the power of creativity as a tool for self-expression and healing. This experience bolstered their confidence. It also ignited a passion for the arts, opening doors to new avenues of self-discovery and personal growth.

Many youth also attended a performance by Mecadon McCune and his jazz ensemble. The performance was a celebration of cultural heritage and musical excellence. McCune’s journey from Newark to the vibrant jazz scene of New York City resonated deeply with them. It served as a reminder of the endless possibilities that await those who dare to dream. The soulful melodies and rhythmic beats transported our youth to a world of joy and inspiration. It shared the power of music as a universal language of hope and resilience.

Jamming at our Youth Engagement Center in Newark


With the goal of ending homelessness that our youth face, we provide services and support which can often include transformative experiences. To deal with the challenges of homelessness as a minority youth, educational outings, cultural celebrations, and artistic endeavors, such as those during Black History Month, can empower young individuals to dream big and reach for the stars. We foster a nurturing environment that celebrates diversity and promotes self-discovery. At CHNJ, we take pride that we are not just a shelter, but a sanctuary where dreams are nurtured and futures are transformed.