The Challenge

  • 21% of all American children live below the poverty line, and 44% qualify as low-income. As recently as 2014, Fulton County mirrored the U.S. childhood poverty rate with a quarter of children living in poverty, and in 2015, Fulton County Schools reported 47% of its students as low-income using Free and Reduced Lunch data.

  • A 2011 study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows that children who cannot read proficiently by the end of 3rd grade are four times likelier to leave high school without a diploma. Children who grow up in under-resourced communities have much less access than their more affluent peers to safe neighborhoods, quality out-of-school programs, and excellent schools – a perfect storm for creating and sustaining systemic inequity.

  • Children who live in underserved communities are less likely to have access to the tools they need to achieve important adult milestones, such as graduating from high school and enrolling in and completing college. These educational and economic disparities can erode employment prospects and wages throughout a lifetime.

  • Higher educational achievement has been clearly linked with higher employment rates and earnings, and with a rapidly changing labor market and increasing global competition, students today need an education that will prepare them to create economic security for themselves and their families.