The Needs We Serve

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Literacy, Incarceration, Unemployment, and Civic Engagement

Literacy: The GCI aims to increase the proficiency of students in English Language Arts, beginning in the 4th grade, where national proficiency levels often dip below 40% in reading. In our local area of St. Louis, Missouri, ELA proficiency can be as low as 32.9% for all students in certain districts. The statistics are often lower and more troubling for African American students in our area and nationally, averaging 17-23% for proficient students in ELA. Math proficiency is worse for African American students, bottoming at 14% proficiency in the state of Missouri alone in the districts we intend to serve. Low ELA and Math scores for students not only decrease the future advanced employment opportunities for students, low long-term academic performance contributes to lower quality of life expectations and outcomes. GCI programs are geared toward combatting the almost 41% of children in our area and nationally living at or below the “real” poverty line.        


Incarceration: Low test scores not only directly lead to lower quality of life outcomes, a lack of a sufficient education is a major factor in juvenile delinquency and adult crime. The GCI’s programs will reduce the nearly 4,500 cases per day handled by juvenile services. Lack of educational opportunities combined with historic policies leading to harsher and more frequent adjudications of juvenile cases have significantly increased the chances that Latino and African American youth will be less likely to graduate high school, receive full employment in the future, and live the American Dream as prosperous citizens.    


Unemployment: Unemployment is often a result of poor education and historical economic marginalization of certain groups, exacerbated by a lack of leaders and entrepreneurs from disadvantaged groups and areas who are unable to spread business knowledge, mentoring, employment opportunities, and economic prosperity throughout their communities and the world. For example, 94% of African American owned firms do not have employees. Professional firms require a solid recruiting base for employees and customers, poverty and decreasing education opportunities erode local hubs for entrepreneurial generation and weaken opportunities for regional and national networks that lead to success. African Americans and Latinos suffer harshly from a lack of economic participation and development in their communities, leading to lower corporate sales, hiring of fewer employees, earning lower profits, and higher failure rates. Increases in youth entrepreneurship will combat the over 30% of unemployed African American youth across the country. 

  

Civic Engagement:   The GCI not only aims to educate and employ some of our advanced participants, our programs are geared toward increasing the 7% of young people who participate in several community service projects or political activities in a given year. Through our long term programs that have a significant focus on civic education and engagement we will raise the youth voting in elections above the current 50% of eligible voters participating. While African Americans are six times less likely to be able to compete with the rest of their classmates on Civics Proficiency assessments, we will change underperformance in Civics significantly. Our goal is not to determine the relevant political party for our participants, we will however, increase the amount of students that are able to identify, articulate, and advocate for a political ideology that benefits the community and the participant. 


Sources 

St. Louis Post Dispatch, September 29, 2016, “Database: 2016 MO MAP Scores by District” 

Campaign for Youth Justice, Key Facts: Youth in the Justice System, April 2012

US Small Business Census 2012   

Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics, University of Pennsylvania, Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools www.civicmissionofschools.org   

Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement www.civicyouth.org