Prevention Institute’s work with cities around the country to prevent violence and reduce inequity confirms—again and again—that lack of economic and educational opportunities are key challenges. In her recent post on the Nation of Change blog, titled "What Happens to a Dream Deferred", Prevention Institute Managing Director Rachel Davis explores these challenges, and how they can be addressed. She writes:
“By design, the American dream has been denied and the constitutional promise of the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness has not been delivered equitably....Cities across the country are taking action. Baltimore is renewing its commitment to building a cradle-to-career pipeline. In New Orleans, Mayor Mitch Landrieu has launched an economic opportunity strategy to connect disadvantaged job-seekers and businesses with the city’s economic growth. The Violence-Free Kansas City Committee in Missouri has prioritized living-wage policies and expanding a “Ban the Box” strategy to increase employment opportunities for those with a criminal history….”
The education and business sectors have particularly vital roles to play in creating safer, more equitable communities. Schools and businesses both do better in thriving communities, and it is easier for them to achieve their own mandates when they play a role in creating those communities. To effect change, schools can use restorative justice practices and offer extended learning to close the achievement gap between white students and students of color. Businesses can sponsor and participate in neighborhood beautification efforts; provide youth job training or in-kind donations; and invest in disenfranchised neighborhoods, among other things.
“When Langston Hughes asked in his seminal poem, What Happens to a Dream Deferred? he concluded by asking, “…does it explode?”. Unrest in Baltimore and elsewhere showed that the unequivocal answer is yes, it does," Rachel writes. "By design, we have left whole communities behind. By design, we can reverse that and reclaim our nation and all of its people.”
Read the full post at Nation of Change blog.