Education, combined with good health, is the key to opening a lifetime of opportunity. Yet low-income students and families still have too few affordable quality options in K-12 and higher education, and often struggle with community barriers to wellness. They also have limited flexibility because of employment, housing or limited income, so the educational and health challenges they face are more daunting. In many schools, too few of students are academically prepared for college and career. Only 20 percent of low-income college students graduate within six years. And across the nation, families in disadvantaged communities are wrestling with reliable access to affordable fresh food and safe physical activity.
Communities have proven that they can come together to lead improvements in access to healthy, fresh food as well as ensure access to more safe areas for physical activity like parks, safe sidewalks, and safe routes to schools. We are also encouraged by the progress across the nation with large school systems improving academic outcomes for their students; more and more high-quality schools opening in low-income neighborhoods; more low-performing schools showing they can be turned around quickly; and the growth in the number of low-income students earning bachelor’s degrees.