Below is a select list of organizations and programs, mostly drawn from the Working Group Report, that are operating to reduce the opportunity gap.
Abriendo Puertas (Opening Doors) is a comprehensive training program developed by and for Latino parents with children ages 0-5. The curriculum uses the “popular education” approach to engage parents in lessons that take the culture of the target audience into consideration. The ten sessions focus on helping Latino parents understand the significant role they play in the development and long-term impact they have on their children’s educational outcomes.
Amachi is a mentoring program that was founded in 2000 to provide children impacted by incarceration with a different path by establishing the consistent presence of loving, caring mentors. Amachi mentors meet weekly with a child who has been carefully matched with them. Amachi’s hope is that one-to-one mentoring by caring adults will significantly improve the life opportunities of the children. In 2009, Amachi expanded to include all at-risk youth and in 2011 grew to serve youth in military families.
AZTransfer and Florida’s Statewide Course Numbering System (SCNS) are statewide collaborations to help students navigate their higher education options in Arizona and Florida, respectively. The working paper argues that once agreement is reached between baccalaureate institutions and community colleges, common course numbering should be used, so that the course number itself indicates whether community college students will get credit for their classes at four year institutions.
Community Resource Schools have been in Baltimore for 6 years. A community school is a network of partnerships between the school and other community resources that promote student achievement and family and community well-being. Its integrated focus on academics, enrichment, health and social supports, youth and community development and family engagement leads to student success, strong families and healthy communities. Partnerships allow schools to become resources to the community and offer programs and opportunities that are open to all.
California Forward was launched in 2008 with the goal of pushing governance reforms that would break the partisan gridlock, fortify fiscal management, and rebuild the relationship among the state and local governments, as a means to better outcomes for the public. With this in mind, California Forward and the California Forward Action Fund proposed, endorsed, promoted, and helped to implement a variety of reforms.
Since 2008, Colorado has successfully increased access to family planning services throughout the state, particularly for the most effective contraceptive methods, such as intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants. The Colorado Family Planning Initiative has increased health care provider education and training and reduced costs for more expensive contraceptive options, enabling more than 30,000 women in the state to choose long-acting reversible contraception.
When, more than a decade ago, Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) set out to rebuild its school facilities, it was with the intent of redesigning schoolhouses to serve both students and the community – creating places where students learn and achieve and the community feels at home. From that vision grew CPS’ Community Learning Centers (CLCs). A CLC is a school that serves as a community hub, utilizing school space during extended hours, on weekends and through the summer to provide additional academic support, health resources, social services, arts programming, and civic and cultural opportunities to students, their families and the community.
Community Roots Charter School is a rigorous K-5 school that serves diverse District 13, Brooklyn, providing inclusive, progressive education with a focus on community and learning in real-world contexts. Community Roots believes that people learn best by doing things in meaningful and interesting contexts and that children need direct instruction in order to develop the skills necessary to be active participants in learning experiences.
The Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire examines opportunity gap data at the state level, including measures like income inequality and poverty, family structure, educational access and achievement to help identify the trends in the changing landscape of social mobility.
Gateway to College is a Gates Foundation–funded effort in which high school dropouts between the ages of 15 and 21 work simultaneously on graduating from high school (or getting a GED) and attending college. The Program pairs school districts and community colleges and can entice other family members to get involved.
The Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ) is a non-profit organization for poverty-stricken children and families living in Harlem. HCZ provides free support through parenting workshops, a pre-school program, three public charter schools, and child-oriented health programs for thousands of children and families. Their goal is to break the cycle of generational poverty for the community it serves. The project has expanded to include nearly 100 blocks of Central Harlem and aims to keep children on track through college and into the job market.
Match Corps, an AmeriCorps program, is a one-year urban education fellowship. Recent college graduates from top universities across the country commit a year to closing the achievement gap in Boston by tutoring small groups of students in grades 1-12 and partnering closely with families. Tutors are integral members of high-performing school teams in some of the best schools in America
A goal of the Montgomery County Housing Policy states that affordable housing should be available to people of all incomes. To help achieve this goal, the County Council passed the Moderately Priced Housing (MPH) Law in 1974. A provision of the MPH Law requires that between 12.5% and 15% of the houses in new subdivisions of 20 or more units be moderately priced dwelling units (MPDUs). The MPH Law requires that 40% of the MPDUs be offered to the Housing Opportunities Commission (HOC) and other non-profit housing agencies for use by low and moderate income families.
MoMba is a social media application that connects new mothers locally to promote healthy mother-infant interaction, social connectedness, and community engagement. Those who utilize this application are able to build sustainable support systems as well as be exposed to the wealth of local resources by simply interacting with the MoMba application.
National Guard Challenge Program is a 17-month Job Corps– type residential program, run by the U.S. military, for students between the ages of 15 and 18 who have left high school without a diploma. A randomized trial showed that 76 percent of participants obtained GEDs compared to 56 percent in the control group, and earned 20 percent more in the labor market.
Nurse Family Partnership is a non-profit community health program which arranges for home visits from registered nurses to low-income first-time mothers. The visit begin during pregnancy and continue for two years following birth. The organization has been associated with improvements in maternal health, child health, and economic security.
Opportunity Nation is a bipartisan, national campaign made up of over 300 cross-sector organizations working alongside each other to expand economic mobility and close the opportunity gap in America. Founded by Mark Edwards, their mission is to restore the promise of the American Dream by ensuring that all Americans, regardless of where they were born, have the opportunity to thrive. They do this by measuring access to opportunity, advancing bipartisan legislation, and convening cross-sector groups to help them achieve their goals.
Our Kids New Hampshire is a bipartisan committee of civic and community leaders committed to tackling the state’s growing opportunity gap. Their goal is that each and every child—from birth to young adulthood—has the resources, opportunities, and support necessary to reach their full potential.
Early college offers students the opportunity to enroll in an associate-degree college program while still in high school. Since 2002, students at some 240 high schools nationwide, among them PTECH, have offered an early-college option. Students in these programs can obtain an associate degree (AA) by the summer after their normal high school graduation.
Reading Partners works with under-resourced schools to mobilize communities to provide students with the individualized reading support they need to read at grade level by fourth grade. This is done by recruiting and training volunteers to work one-on-one with students for 45 minutes twice a week, following a structured, research-based curriculum.
Reconnecting McDowell is a long-term effort to make educational improvement in McDowell County, West Virginia, the route to a brighter economic future. Partners from business, foundations, government, nonprofit agencies and labor have committed to seeking solutions to McDowell’s complex problems—poverty, underperforming schools, drug and alcohol abuse, housing shortages, limited medical services, and inadequate access to technology and transportation. Each partner has agreed to provide services, money, products and/or expertise to lift McDowell County’s schools, students and their families.
Beginning in 2002 and with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other philanthropies, the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) closed many large, comprehensive high schools with a history of low performance and created hundreds of new small secondary schools. At the same time, the NYCDOE instituted a centralized high school admissions process for matching incoming ninth-grade students to the over 400 high school options available to them. The project’s reports and policy briefs provide rigorous evidence that new small public high schools are narrowing the educational attainment gap and markedly improve graduation prospects, particularly for disadvantaged students.
Founded in 2006, Success Academy Charter Schools is the largest and highest-performing free, public charter school network in New York City. Students are admitted by a random lottery held each April. Authorized by the State University of New York’s Charter School Institute, Success Academy schools are able to operate with greater independence than zoned schools, but are held strictly accountable to the state for student performance. Every five years, charter schools are subject to reviews that determine if a school continues to operate.
The Contraceptive Choice Project was started to remove the financial barriers to contraception, promote the most effective methods of birth control, and reduce unintended pregnancy in the St. Louis area. The prospective study, started in 2007 and now completed, found that once financial barriers were removed and long-acting reversible methods of contraception were introduced to all potential participants as a first-line contraceptive option, two-thirds chose long-acting reversible methods of contraception
Within My Reach is a program which trains single parents on the importance of safe relationships, wise partner choices, and the impact of romantic and sexual relationships on one’s children. The curriculum helps singles set their goals when it comes to personal and relationship development and commit to making decisions that proactively realize those goals.
Year Up’s mission is to close the Opportunity Divide by providing urban young adults with the skills, experience, and support that will empower them to reach their potential through professional careers and higher education. They achieve this mission through a high support, high expectation model that combines marketable job skills, stipends, internships and college credits.
YouthBuild is a non-profit organization founded by Dorothy Stoneman and based in Somerville, MA. The YouthBuild program works to provide education, counseling, and job skills to unemployed, young, American adults (between the ages of 16 to 24), generally high school dropouts.