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Each year thousands of Baltimore’s youth are incarcerated. A Black boy born is 2001 has a 1 in 3 chance of going to prison in his lifetime. This “Cradle to Prison Pipeline” is putting Baltimore City’s children in a trajectory that leads to marginalized lives, imprisonment and premature death--which has enormous costs to our society in both human and fiscal terms. Each year the Cradle to College Pipeline, Inc. continues to advance the cause of reversing the Phenomenon for youth in Baltimore, City. Through our Baltimore Freedom Schools Program (in partnership with the Children's Defense Fund), we have seen more than 200 lives changed for the better.

Let me share with you the story of how we reduce the summer learning gap that leads to hyper underachievement gaps, culminating in chronic failure rates of high school graduation of 65% per year and ultimately prison for too many of our Youth. Researchers found, for example, that 81.5 percent of the public school students in Baltimore's suburbs graduate, compared with 34.6 percent in the city schools. High school dropouts are almost 3 times as likely to be incarcerated as youths who have graduated from high school. How does this happen? Most students lose about two months of grade-level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months. Low-income students also lose more than two months in reading achievement, while their middle-class peers make slight gains (Cooper, 1996). This is compounded by other environmental and structural factors.

When this pattern (Summer Learning Loss)continues throughout the elementary school years, lower income youth fall more than two and one-half years behind their more affluent peers by the end of fifth grade. Two-thirds of the achievement gap between lower - and higher -income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities. As a result, low-income youth are less likely to graduate from high school or enter college. Exacerbated by housing and education challenges in Baltimore, one of the most segregated cities in America, this puts many of these youth into the Cradle to Prison Pipeline.

That’s why we started the Cradle to College Pipeline. With your help we will challenge the status quo, change the priorities of leaders, and begin to mitigate the disparities which prevent equitable educational outcomes.


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