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National, city movements confronts 'State of Black Children'

The Baltimore Sun

14 January 2011 - Original Source

In the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s legacy, I thought I'd share this report  released earlier this week, which takes a crucial and comprehensive look at the 'State of Black Children and Families.'

The report, a joint project by the Children's Defense Fund on behalf of the Black Community Crusade for Children, provides a deeply researched analysis about the perils of poverty, unemployment that plagues the nation's black communities.

The BCCC, a crusade led by the high-profile educator Geoffrey Canada of the acclaimed Harlem Children's Zone organization in NY (Waiting for Superman), is gearing up to launch the second phase of its journey in combatting some of the problems outlined in the report.

However, a movement that mirrors the BCCC can be found right here in Baltimore, and its leaders are paying attention to the report's findings. We received reaction from one city agency:

“Here in Baltimore, we know firsthand what the Black Community Crusade for Children is trying to combat,” said Nicole A. Johnson, director of Elev8 Baltimore, an initiative that partners with four schools in east Baltimore to ensure that all students – and in particular, middle-graders – are ready to succeed in high school.

“And it’s incredibly distressing that the disappointing statistics that were reported today are the same disappointing statistics from 10, 15, 20 years ago. If it was a crisis a decade ago, it’s a super-crisis now.”
 
Much like Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone, Elev8 Baltimore works to meet the needs of students, families and the surrounding community – in an effort to eradicate the low educational statistics and poor social outcomes that have plagued African American communities for generations.

By engaging families and students to be advocates for themselves; by providing learning, family support, and health-related services and working to strengthen the focus of schools and government agencies on student success, Johnson said Elev8 Baltimore is doing its part to “close the achievement gap; reweave the fabric of family and community; and build a loud and effective adult voice for children.”
 
But there is still more to be done.
 
“Now is the time to pool our resources to foster opportunity and success for all children.  Young people need comprehensive solutions.  ,” Johnson said.
 
Note: This summer, each of the four Elev8 Baltimore sites will be host to the Children’s Defense Fund’s Freedom Schools program, a model program focused on literacy, civic engagement, social action, intergenerational leadership development, nutrition, and health. 

The Children’s Defense Fund and Elev8 are Atlantic grantees. 

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Tags:
children & youth, Children's Defense Fund, Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools, Elev8, State of Black Children and Families, United States