It was excellent to see Will Kilbreth spotlight the needs of homeless youth in a Maine Voices column Nov. 29 (“Homeless young people are hard to count, and also hard to help”). He highlighted the efforts of LearningWorks, a valuable resource for homeless and at-risk youth, but Portland is lucky to have other organizations engaged in helping these young people not only count – but matter.

For the last 17 years, Street Academy has participated in a powerful collaboration at the Preble Street Teen Center in Portland’s Bayside neighborhood. Portland Adult Education, Preble Street, Portland Public Health and Day One work together to streamline services for homeless youth and young adults under one roof.

Each year, hundreds of homeless youth seek support at the Teen Center to rebuild their lives. Young teens receive referrals to The Opportunity Alliance (formerly PROP and Youth Alternatives Ingraham) for appropriate assistance. For older youth, GED testing is administered on site, and more than 30 students each year earn their GED credential. In addition, the Learn to Earn program provides pre-employment training and job placement, which often leads to permanent employment for these youth.

For many students, earning a GED diploma and/or finding gainful employment is transformative, fueling a desire for higher education. The Street Academy helps its students navigate the process of entering college, and 20 students have launched that process this year.

Rising numbers of better-educated and employed young citizens also matter to our city — just ask the employers, accountants and economists.