Children Living in Poverty Need Community-based Solutions

October 4, 2010 at 9:29 am Leave a comment

Last week we learned the poverty rates of Austin residents, and it’s not pretty. According to the census’ American Community Survey, 18.4% of all Austinites were living in poverty last year, an increase in more than a full percentage point from 2008. Of this population, 27% of our children under the age of 18 and 31.5% of children younger than 5 lived in poverty in 2009 – this is unacceptable!

We can all agree that education and access to after-school programs impact a child’s opportunity to grow into young adults poised for success. But access to these resources is typically determined by tax revenue, and more significantly by property taxes in the neighborhoods that serve the children living there.

However, when more than a quarter of our children are living in poverty, how will they gain access to resources that can provide them with the tools and skills necessary to guarantee success? When such a large number of families in our community are living below the poverty line, they aren’t being given access to the education systems that can best provide them with a high-quality education.

What are some of the innovative solutions that exist out there? If you are a fan of our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter, you may have seen a story about innovative solutions to adapting education opportunity to the culture in rural areas.

In Buffalo, MO, there is a program that provides tuition assistance to members of the community interested in going to college to become teachers. In exchange, those teachers return to their community and teach for three years. This way, children have an ally, their teacher is someone from their small community and are accessible to them; the teachers understand the culture and have the opportunity to give back to the community they grew up in.

Here in East Austin, the East Austin Children’s Promise has joined a community in finding solutions for their children. In the Govalle/Johnston Terrace neighborhood, 21% of the families are living below the poverty level (2008).  This generally will translate to underfunded schools with poor performance. However, Children’s Promise has committed to East Austin to bring resources back to the community.

But one or two programs will not solve the problem of these unacceptable results for our Austin families. If our families are not strong our neighborhoods suffer. And when our neighborhoods cannot provide for their children, our communities are not strong.

— Narissa Johnson
External Communications Manager, Southwest Key

Entry filed under: Community Resource, East Austin Children's Promise, Uncategorized.

Open Letter to the Community: Our Promise $2.5M Grant To Fulfill Promise to East Austin

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