Family Scholar House

Family Scholar House Director of Mission Advancement Kellie Johnston; the nonprofit’s Chief Possibility Officer, President & CEO Cathe Dykstra; and Director of Strategic Initiatives Kate Brackett. Photo by Bill Wine.

For more than 20 years, Family Scholar House has worked diligently to support single-parent students. To learn more about the work they’re doing and the upcoming Celebration of Education Gala, we spoke with Director of Mission Advancement Kellie Johnston.


The mission of Family Scholar House is to end the cycle of poverty and transform the community by empowering families and youth to succeed in education and achieve life-long self-sufficiency. “The families we serve are all very low-income, have all experienced homelessness or unstable housing and all are seeking to break this cycle of poverty through education,” said Johnston.


“In 2017, we served 3,497 very low-income single-parent families with 4,718 children, as well as 431 former foster youth who have aged out of the foster system,” Johnston explained. “Currently, 271 of these families are served residentially, living on five of our area’s campuses, with the rest in our pre-residential program receiving assistance with food and emergency needs, academic coaching, family advocacy and children’s services.”

Family Scholar House provides these comprehensive services with 12 full-time and four part-time employees and a dedicated army of volunteers. “In 2017, 1,976 community members worked with us to help our families on their journey to self-sufficiency,” Johnston said.


Family Scholar House will be participating in Give For Good Louisville on Sept. 13 by providing donors with the opportunity to fund key children’s programs to help their families:

• Children’s Art Therapy – A donation of $12.50 will provide art supplies for one FSH little scholar to learn to express emotions and heal.

• “Mommy & Me” Cooking Classes – A donation of $53.25 provides the ingredients and instruction for six families who are learning to cook healthy meals on a budget.

• Toddler Book Club – A donation of $100 provides books, snacks and activity materials for children ages two through six to develop a love for learning and reading.


“This will be our 21st year to host a Celebration of Education event, where we get the opportunity to share our success stories with the community and celebrate our supporters who make our success possible,” Johnston said. This year’s gala will feature Dr. Neeli Bendapudi, the new president of the University of Louisville and will be held at the Omni Hotel. Reservations are still available and can be purchased by calling 502.813.3086.


“Family is part of our name and exactly what we provide to disadvantaged adults and children in our community,” says Johnston. “The best way for the community to support us is to become a part of that family. Please email me at to get involved in any of the following ways:

Volunteer – Invest your time, talent and passion in the lives of eager and motivated adults seeking to change their lives and the lives of their children. We cannot do what we do without dedicated volunteers. Opportunities include children’s activities, tutoring all ages, mentoring, career and job shadowing/internships, leading workshops and many more. If you have a skill and passion you are willing to share, we’d love to have you join our family.

Learn more – One of the greatest ways to support FSH is to learn more and spread the word. We need advocates for our program sharing our stories in our community so that more people will understand the great need and impact our program has on our community.

Donate – When our participants come to Family Scholar House, they are coming from homelessness or unstable housing and often do not have the basic necessities to set up their first stable home. We are always seeking donations of new or gently used household necessities to help our families get a good start. Our greatest needs are always clean mattresses, beds, sofas and kitchen tables. If you have items to donate, we’d love to talk to you.

  Give – Because Family Scholar House receives no federal or state funding for our programs and services, it is necessary for us to raise 100 percent of our operating budget each year. We have many dedicated supporters who provide this financial support, but the need is great. As you are considering year-end, tax-deductible gifts, please keep Family Scholar House in mind. Investment in our families is a long-term investment in Louisville as they graduate and become contributing members of our community.” VT

Family Scholar House

Celebration of Education Gala

6 p.m. Sept. 21

Omni Hotel