The statistics can be overwhelming:

79% of 8th graders

in the CPS are not grade-level proficient in reading, and 80% are not grade-level proficient in math.
U.S. Department of Education

Just 6% of young African-American men

in ninth grade will graduate from college with baccalaureate degrees within 10 years, while 13 percent of their female peers do so.
The Consortium on Chicago School Research, 2014

There is a 28-point gap

between the percentage of Caucasian and African-American students who meet and exceed reading standards in 3rd grade. In 11th grade, the gap is 40 points.

1/2 of the African-American adults in Chicago

have only a high school diploma or less. Just 18 percent have a Bachelor’s degree or higher. This is crucial: income is directly related to education and, for African-American men, incarceration for the 20 percent of that group without a high school diploma is more likely than not.

Between 30,000 and 40,000

adult African-American men from Chicago in the criminal justice system. That’s 15 percent of all of Chicago’s African-American men. That is an average, of course; in some Chicago neighborhoods a third or more of the male adults might be in the criminal justice system.

If the educational attainment of African-American adults reaches

the current level of white residents of Chicago, those with Bachelor’s degrees or higher will increase by 150,000. This would increase the annual income of Chicago’s African-American community by $5.2 billion.

The earnings gap

between U.S. workers with a 4-year college degree and those with only a high school diploma among U.S. males working full-time in year-round jobs was $17,411 in 1979, measured in constant 2012 dollars. Thirty-three years later, in 2012, this gap had risen to $34,969, almost exactly double its 1979 level. 

Behind each of these statistics is a child.

Ready to begin kindergarten.

With hopes and dreams. Not of prison or poverty but of reading and writing, of fascinating science experiments and solving story problems, high school basketball games and college dorm life.

We need to change those statistics into college success stories. Stories that will change the trajectory of a life, a family, a community, a city, a country, for generations to come.