Year-End Giving helps GCO Remove Barriers to Opportunity

A word from our CEO, Randy Hicks, about year-end giving

Georgia Center for Opportunity’s mission is to remove barriers to social and economic opportunity. Consider making a year-end gift to help GCO continue to fight for solutions to childhood poverty, family breakdown, failing schools, welfare dependency and unemployment. We value your partnership in this important work.

At  GCO, we are committed to do what is necessary to improve the lives of individuals and families. In Georgia, only three out of ten poor children make it to the middle class by middle age. And even for those children, the threats of family breakdown, poor quality schools, and fewer jobs mean that today’s children are just as likely to move down the income scale as they are up. You can read more about the challenges and costs to society here.

According to social scientists Isabel Sawhill and Ron Haskins, American children can do three things that will almost eliminate the threat of falling into poverty:

  • Graduate from high school
  • Get a full time job
  • Be married and at least 21-years-old before having children

Ninety-eight percent of those who did those three things are not in poverty today.

We have a three-step process for developing solutions and making them a reality. First, GCO brings experts together to dive into some of today’s biggest challenges and recommend both policy and community-based solutions. Second, GCO educates the public and advocates at all levels of policymaking. And third, GCO helps effective nonprofits get even better and build additional capacity to affect change. Read more about our approach here.

Currently, we have several initiatives underway in Prisoner Reentry, Breakthrough Communities, and College and Career Pathways that you can read about here, as well as on other posts on our blog. In 2014, GCO will launch panels on stronger families, community-based healthcare solutions, and other exciting work.

Will you invest in our work at this time?

The success we have had – and the success we will have – is tied to your investment in our work. A significant portion of our budget – and therefore our impact – is determined by gifts that are received during December. A gift of any size – $25, $100, $250, $1,000 – will make a difference. As always, please know that we are thankful for you and your generosity.

 You may make a secure donation online here.

College and Careers Pathways Kicks Off!

Experts in education gathered to discuss the barriers that hinder Georgians from reaching postsecondary success at the first College and Career Pathways Working Group, held November 13. Among those in attendance were leaders from noted college readiness nonprofits, leaders from the private sector, and postsecondary educators.

Beginning this important dialogue included a look at what “college” and “career” readiness signifies for students in Georgia. Sources such as Achieve, Inc. say that:

“…“[C]ollege ready” means being prepared for any postsecondary education or training experience, including study at two- and four-year institutions leading to a postsecondary credential (i.e. a certificate, license, Associate’s, or Bachelor’s degree).”

Georgians must possess the tools to thrive in a two year or four year college setting, as well as have the ability to learn quickly with on-the-job training. Members of the working group aim to outline a vision of “readiness” that channels efforts in schools to not only help students meet educational benchmarks, but also prepare more students for “real world” challenges. Refining these definitions and giving context to the way students in Georgia are prepared for higher education and employment will be a key next step for the working group.

Discussion at the first meeting also focused on improving the quality of teaching in schools across Georgia. Student and parent interaction with teachers can greatly impact the likelihood a child is adequately prepared for postsecondary education. Public Impact, a research and strategy collective focused on quality k-12 learning, finds that one high quality teacher can produce up to a year and a half of learning progress in just one year. Also considered was the need to recruit more high quality educators while raising the accountability of all stakeholders–parents, teachers, and students alike. Exploring ways to link teacher evaluations with student performance will be an equally important next step.

The College and Career Pathways Working Group will continue to review the challenges students face–including identifying common qualities college-ready students share and examining how schools serve at-risk students.  Going forward, experts of the group will meet monthly for the next year, continuing on December 18. For more information on The College and Career Pathways Initiative please visit the GCO website here.