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Early childhood development research shows that since early experiences create a foundation for lifelong learning and behavior then a strong foundation in the early years increases the probability of positive outcomes.
In New York City, African American children get off to a bad start and end up worse. Sixty-one percent of Africanâ€American children are born into poverty, according to a 2005 report from the Citizen’s Committee for Children of New York Inc. By high school 22.1% of black students drop out, and in adulthood more blacks are unemployed then any other race.
“The sad thing is if you can fall off the wagon before you’re even school age, [life] is a tough challenge,” said Deborah C. Wright, chairman, president and CEO of Carver Federal Savings Bank (No. 1 on the B.E. 100s Banks list with $800,000 in assets under management).
Wright spoke at the “Young Black Leaders of Tomorrow Luncheon” at New York’s Metropolitan Club on Tuesday for Pipeline Crisis/Winning Strategies, an organization that seeks to resolve the obstacles, which hamper success in young black children, specifically black boys.
William J. Snipes and William E. Schroeder, co-founders of Pipeline are convinced that through early childhood education and care these disparities can be fixed. However, a goal just as formidable is to convince the legal and financial communities in New York City to pool their resources with academic experts who know the winning strategies for these problems. One such expert is Harvard University professor Charles J. Ogletree, who received an award Tuesday for his dedication to their cause.
So, with the goal of raising $225,000, the Pipeline Crisis Working Group, in conjunction with the United Way of New York City set out Tuesday to hold their contemporaries accountable. They placed pledge cards at each table and echoed the possibility that the benefits of their support could provide the foundation for a young Wright or Ogletree to build upon.
Since 2007 the two organizations have raised $75,000 for three early childhood centers in Brooklyn, New York for children 2-5 years old. They hope to create a consistently nurturing environment that will minimize the children’s exposure to “toxic stress.”
Toxic stress can damage a developing brain’s architecture and lead to lifelong problems with learning, behavior, and both physical and mental health, according to the Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child.
“One-third of young black boys are destined for prison. There are generations that are essentially lost unless we can break this cycle,” said Snipes. “The private sector has a stake in that and it is a force that has to be listened to. The direct economic consequences of ignoring these problems are enormous.”
Marcia A. Wade is a reporter at BlackEnterprise.com