podcastED: Formerly homeless family finds a lifeline in education choice scholarships

On this episode, reimaginED senior writer Lisa Buie talks with Juliette Harrell, an Orlando, Florida, mother of three children, two of whom attend private school thanks to the Family Empowerment Scholarship Economic Options program.

Lacking education in financial literacy, Harrell and her husband, Allen, experienced homelessness as teenage parents. Their bills piled up, and Harrell and Aiden, now 10, and Amar’e, now 6, had to relocate to a local shelter while her husband moved in with his mother until they could get back on their feet. They heard about Florida’s state scholarship programs for lower-income families and applied.

The couple was able to settle Aiden and Amar’e into a private school that also helped them learn how to manage their finances. They became fiscally stable and eventually bought their first home.


  • How Harrell’s suspected dyslexia affected her education experience
  • How a lack of financial literacy education affected the Harrells’ ability to manage money early in their marriage
  • How the Harrells learned of the Family Empowerment Scholarship Program and found the right educational fit for their two school-age sons
  • The importance of perseverance when life throws a curve ball

Avatar photo

BY Lisa Buie

Lisa Buie is senior reporter for NextSteps. The daughter of a public school superintendent, she spent more than a dozen years as a reporter and bureau chief at the Tampa Bay Times before joining Shriners Hospitals for Children — Tampa, where she served for nearly five years as marketing and communications manager. She lives with her husband and their teenage son, who has benefited from education choice.