We know that opportunities to learn and grow must begin in the earliest years of life, with parent education and support as well as community-wide initiatives that emphasize early literacy.
Home visiting programs, supports for informal caregivers (family, friends, and neighbors), family literacy programs and universal access to preschool for three- and four-year-olds all make it more likely that young children will enter school ready to learn and succeed. A key goal must be to ensure successful transitions into the early elementary grades and to promote reading proficiency among all children by the end of third grade.
Afterschool programs and other enrichment opportunities during out-of-school time (including weekends, holidays, and summer vacations) play critical roles in helping children and youth continue to learn, grow, and stay out of trouble. Quality standards for afterschool programs, expanded access to out-of-school time offerings in underserved neighborhoods, and city partnerships with libraries, museums, and other cultural institutions can all support academic achievement as well as broader youth development and public safety goals.
Finally, it is clear that high school completion and postsecondary training and education are essential to long-term success in today's rapidly changing labor market. Dropout prevention initiatives and reengagement strategies targeting young people who have already left school can extend a much-needed lifeline to those who might otherwise be left behind. Bold new scholarship programs and other postsecondary access and completion efforts can send powerful messages to all youth that two- and four-year colleges as well as vocational and technical institutions are within their reach and help ensure that less advantaged youth succeed in these settings.
Examples of local targets to consider: