The Curb-Cut Effect

18 Jan 2017 |

In the most recent edition of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, our CEO, Angela Glover Blackwell, discusses the tried and true effects of building an equitable society -- one policy, law, and program at a time. “The Curb-Cut Effect,” illustrates that equity is not a zero-sum game, especially when it comes to the livelihood of our kids. 

When a neighborhood and its schools are equitable -- supported by a healthy local economy, good jobs, effective transportation, sufficient and affordable housing, and access to preventative healthcare -- all students and families, regardless of socioeconomic status, benefit from a thriving community in which all can participate and prosper.  This is a reality in Promise Neighborhoods. In communities like Berea, Kentucky where kindergarten readiness has improved from 12% to 42% since 2012; in Indianola, Mississippi where 3rd graders have closed academic gaps with the rest of the state; in the Hollywood and Pacoima neighborhoods of Los Angeles, where school API scores increased an average of 18 points in a single year (as compared to 2 points across the state).  It’s a reality in states like Florida, Minneapolis, and Utah where Promise Neighborhood advocates have lead efforts to change the way that cradle-to-career efforts are prioritized and capitalized at scale.  It’s a reality at the highest levels of federal government, as equity has been explicitly written into the Every Student Succeeds Act through the authorization of the Promise Neighborhoods program.

And yet, equity remains elusive for most of our kids and families.  Across the country, 14 million children -- future business owners, doctors, visionaries, civic leaders, taxpayers -- are disconnected from pathways that lead to prosperity. Until each one of them is connected to opportunities that will allow him or her to fully contribute to and rise with society’s gains, we will continue to fall short of our potential as a country. 

The beauty of equity is that it is not zero-sum, and playing the game has the potential to benefit everyone.  You and I -- and every fellow American -- can embrace, pursue, proliferate, and benefit from the cascading benefits of equity.  Equity is built upon the truth that, when we knock down walls of exclusion and build accessible pathways to success, everyone gains.   After all,  “we are one nation… we rise or fall together.  Without equity, there can be neither progress or prosperity.”

In solidarity,

The Promise Neighborhoods Institute at PolicyLink