LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Simmons College of Kentucky, Louisville’s only Historically Black College and University, has launched a new initiative to help bring higher education opportunities to the city’s houseless community.

What You Need To Know

  • Simmons College of Kentucky launched the "Open Door" initiative to bring educational opportunities to those who are homeless 

  • Terence Lester, a community advocate and author, will lead educational initiative

  • The Coalition for the Homeless is partnering with Simmons to determing best practices to provide learning opportunities

“It’s not normal to have homeless and houseless people on the street,” Simmons College President Kevin Cosby said Thursday. Cosby announced the new “Open Door” initiative that has the potential to change countless lives. 

Terence Lester is an author and community advocate who will lead the new "Open Door" initiative at Simmons College of Kentucky. (Spectrum News 1/Jonathon Gregg)

“Trying to transform the lives of houseless people through education and we want to take education to them where they are,” Cosby said.

It’s a noble cause and could have long-lasting, positive effects for Louisville. Louisville’s only HBCU is developing the ‘Open Door’ initiative and the educational endeavor is led by Terence Lester, a community advocate and author who raises awareness and works on solutions to the homelessness epidemic. “Let’s be a pilot for the nation to look at where we are adding substance to the conversation where people can one day stand up. We don’t know what people can become if we invest in them,” Lester said.

Louisville’s Coalition for the Homeless has partnered with Simmons College to help develop and facilitate educational opportunities, whether on campus or in a shelter setting. Executive Director Natalie Harris says conversations have already started on how to gather ideas and determine best practices for providing beneficial learning opportunities. “What works best is if people have a stable, safe place to be they’re much more likely to be open and able to progress in their life so we want housing to be part of this program,” Harris told Spectrum News 1.

The announcement was also a call to action to future partners who may help the city’s most vulnerable residents reach their full potential. Also speaking in support of the Simmons College “Open Door” initiative was Mayor Craig Greenberg, D-Louisville, former U.S. Congressman John Yarmuth and Louisville Police Chief Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel.