We have yet to realize Horace Mann’s celebrated call to make education the “great equalizer” and the “balancing wheel of society.” Instead, disadvantaged students are failing in our public schools at alarming and disproportionate rates, the result of a long and subtle string of deficits and onslaughts in their lives. The outcome is devastating: first as a growing and overwhelming achievement gap, the ultimate legacy of which, is a disenfranchised and indifferent underclass relegated to a cycle of generational poverty. Those families are then caught in gridlock, attempting, in addition to the obstacles of simply living with out means, to navigate an education system in flux, that churns through reform initiatives, teachers, and schools.
The learning and life chances that are provided through school - elementary grades and secondary grades - occur at the nexus of out-of-school resources or factors. Educational outcomes are about complex interactions between what happens at home, in the classrooms, in the neighborhoods, and during the summer months. It is about advantages embedded in culture and demographic profiles; it is about language patterns, family expectations and values, extended learning opportunities, how parents advocate for their children and how children learn to advocate for themselves. It is about access to and the mobilization of resources that align with and support school learning. Simply, access to critical and timely out-of-school resources are essential for educational success, serving to fuel learning.
If schools are to ever become the "great equalizer," weakening or putting an end to intergenerational povertry - and we believe they can deliver on that vision - they must become part of a larger, linked educational system that provides equitable access to essential out-of-school resources and opportunities that have a profound impact on school leanring and education outcomes.
Impact360 is a positive youth development organization...an ecosytem of essential out-of-school resources in three related areas (i.e., Health & Wellness, Academic, and Life Skills) - linked to the students' schools and their families - working to enusre that historically underserved students have equitable access to essential out-of-school resources that positively impact their educational experiences. Students join Impact360 in 6th or 7th grade and spend the next six to seven years working toward a future that not only includes college but breaks the devastating cycle of poverty. Each student participates in 450 hours of supporting activities per year...3000 hours over the duration of the relationhip because changing trajectories does not happen over a week or a year, it happens over a childhood and it is intentional.