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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 31, 2011
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Vice President for Communications and Outreach
(BOSTON) March 31, 2011 — On Friday, April 1, 2011, at 12:45 p.m., Marian Wright Edelman, children’s rights activist and president of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), will deliver the keynote address and open the Cradle to Prison Pipeline® Summit at City Year’s Headquarters for Idealism at 287 Columbus Avenue in Boston. Throughout the day-long summit, 140 City Year Boston AmeriCorps members will learn about the magnitude of societal challenges contributing to and resulting from the pipeline. Corps members will also examine promising approaches to help lead students down a path to college and life success.
Nationally, one in three Black boys and one in six Latino boys born in 2001 are at risk of imprisonment during their lifetime. The Children’s Defense Fund launched the Cradle to Prison Pipeline® campaign in 2007 and has engaged civil rights organizations and policy makers, families, youths and communities to address this crisis with programs, supports and interventions that work. But poverty, racial disparities and a culture of punishment rather than prevention and early intervention are funneling tens of thousands of children into the prison pipeline each year. “A toxic cocktail of poverty, illiteracy, racial disparities, violence, massive incarceration and family breakdown is sentencing millions of children to dead end and hopeless lives, and threatens to undermine the past half century of racial and social progress,” Edelman said, “We are pleased to share our research and promising practices with the committed young leaders of City Year, who already serve in schools and communities every day to help students stay in school and stay in the pipeline to college and productive work.”
New research compiled by CDF finds Massachusetts spends six times more per prisoner than per public school student; this disparity is greater than in any other state. The most recent statistics reveal Massachusetts spent $78,580 per prisoner while spending only $12,857 per pupil in 2007. In these economic hard times, sound fiscal policy means investing in early childhood development and education. Intervening early not only saves lives and futures, it saves money. Additional new research compiled for CDF found about 60,000 students in Massachusetts were suspended or expelled from school last year, about half for nonviolent, noncriminal offenses such as swearing, talking back to a teacher, or truancy. The result for those nonviolent, noncriminal offenses: 57,000 lost days of school. Suspended and expelled students are at a greater risk of dropping out and dropping in to the prison pipeline.
City Year corps members serve full-time in schools to help students stay on track to graduation through targeted attendance, behavior and course performance interventions. “Research shows that high school dropouts are eight times more likely to be in jail or prison than high school graduates,” says Sandra Lopez Burke, vice president and executive director of City Year Boston. “Corps members serve tirelessly to address the national high school dropout crisis in a unique role as near-peer tutors and role models. This summit is an opportunity for corps members to learn more about the larger challenges and opportunities connected to their in-school service.”
City Year Boston alumni, Joe Worthy and Setareh Yelle co-organized today’s event after attending a 2010 Summit hosted by The Children’s Defense Fund and Harvard Law School. The program will feature workshops with distinguished presenters including Reverend Ray Hammond, founder and chair of the Boston TenPoint Coalition; Roy Martin, senior youth development specialist in the Youth Development Network, Boston Health Commission; Chandra Banks, district-wide conflict mediator for Cambridge Public Schools; and Catherine Hoffman, former director of Cambridge Peace Commission. An intergenerational panel will include Kim Janey, senior project director for Massachusetts Advocates for Children’s Boston School Reform Initiative, and Omo Moses, co-founder, Young People’s Project. A workshop examining the gaps in early childhood development and educational opportunities will include Professor Daren Graves, director of the Urban Master's Program at Simmons College.
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ABOUT CITY YEAR
City Year unites young people of all backgrounds for a year of full-time service, giving them the skills and opportunities to change the world. As tutors, mentors and role models, these diverse young leaders help children stay in school and on track, and transform schools and communities across the United States, as well as through two international affiliates. Founded in Boston in 1988, City Year has established programs in Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbia, S.C., Columbus, Ohio, Detroit, Little Rock, Ark., Los Angeles, Baton Rouge and New Orleans, La., Miami, Milwaukee, New Hampshire, New York, Philadelphia, Rhode Island, San Antonio, San Jose, Calif., Seattle, and Washington, D.C., and international affiliates in Johannesburg, South Africa, and London, England. Please visit www.cityyear.org for more information.
ABOUT CHILDREN’S DEFENSE FUND
The Children's Defense Fund (CDF) is a non-profit child advocacy organization that has worked relentlessly for over 35 years to ensure a level playing field for all children. CDF champions policies and programs that lift children out of poverty; protect them from abuse and neglect; and ensure their access to health care, quality education and a moral and spiritual foundation. Supported by foundation and corporate grants and individual donations, CDF advocates nationwide on behalf of children to ensure children are always a priority.
The Children's Defense Fund Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.