Which words come to mind when you contemplate 2021: “Hardship”? “Shortage”?

What about “hope,” “encouragement,” and “gratitude”?

Those last three may not seem to top the list during a global pandemic, but at HSLDA, we are hearing them a lot from the families we have had the privilege of serving this year.

Compassion Grants are among the primary ways HSLDA cares for homeschooling families in hard times. Families may be struggling through medical issues, relationship breakdowns, or financial difficulties. Their children may be overcoming special needs or recovering from PTSD due to bullying or abandonment.

Every family’s story is unique, but they share a common thread of perseverance. Parents and grandparents courageously continue to give the children in their care the gift of a tailored home education, despite the challenges or opposition facing them. And in the process, they simultaneously give their children a safe space in which to heal and flourish.

HSLDA Compassion supports these brave families through two main grant tracks, with the first being Curriculum Grants.

Curriculum Grants help financially strained families purchase educational materials and services they could not otherwise afford, including books, classes, co-op fees, and testing or therapies for children with special needs.

Jennifer and Kevin’s story:

Grant recipients Jennifer and Kevin stumbled on homeschooling in response to their son’s special needs, and it turned out to be a wonderful gift. Their homeschooling journey started years ago when their son was not able to progress to 1st grade, because he had failed to read at the appropriate level. Homeschooling gave them the ability to go at his pace.

As the years went on, they discovered his dyslexia and were able to pick curriculum that met his needs. Jennifer shares, “He enjoys reading and doesn’t get overwhelmed or discouraged like he did while he was in public school.” They have continued to homeschool all their children and find joy in watching them mature.

Jennifer tells us the grant has made it possible for them to stay connected to their beloved homeschool group, one that gives her accountability and encouragement. It provides her children the chance to be with other homeschoolers, to practice public speaking, and, for her adopted daughter, a chance to be around other adopted kids who look different than their adopted families. “My family is so grateful for the Compassion Grant donors!” says Jennifer.

Dawn’s story:

Single mom Dawn recounts how receiving a Curriculum Grant strengthened her family in their darkest moment when she recently went through a heartbreaking divorce.

“I lost my husband to addiction,” Dawn explains. “It took him to a very low and dark place. My three daughters and I didn’t know the man he had become. Our lifestyle and way of living were turned upside down . . .

“This Compassion Grant has been a way we have seen God provide just when we needed it most.”

As a newly single mom, Dawn says that working and homeschooling have been humbling, challenging, and exhausting to say the least, but also the most incredible and rewarding time for her and her children.

Whether devastation comes to a family in the form of a wildfire, hurricane, or other natural disaster, HSLDA Compassion Disaster Relief Grants help families recover from the catastrophe as they either begin or continue to homeschool.

Katie’s story:

Grant recipient Katie describes her family’s experience during February 2021, when Winter Storm Uri froze much of Texas. The extreme cold burst a sprinkler pipe in their attic, which flooded their house from the top down and collapsed all the ceilings. Their home was unlivable for nine months. Needless to say, they also lost their schoolroom and most of their educational materials.

They were amazed to watch their homeschool community jump into action. Within 30 minutes of their disaster, fellow homeschool dads showed up with chainsaws and shop vacs, ready to work.

“We have been so well cared for!” says Katie. “Thank you for helping to bridge the gap with our homeschool expenses this past season! . . . We were so sad to see our home destroyed and were overwhelmed at the task of rebuilding. Thank you for leaning into the rough places to give us hope and encourage us to press on!”

To all who have supported HSLDA Compassion’s work, we pass on the profound gratitude of the more than 700 families who have received tangible help and hope in 2021. Together, we can continue to help families turn times of great challenge into inspiring stories of hope.