In communities across the country, leaders are building neighborhood-level cradle-to-career systems to provide children with health, social, and educational supports from birth through college and career. Cradle-to-career systems like Promise Neighborhoods and the pioneering Harlem Children’s Zone use wraparound education supports to break the cycle of generational poverty by helping children effectively learn, grow, and succeed. Guided by a commitment to long-term, large-scale change in an entire community, cradle-to-career systems bring residents, school staff, community leaders, and service providers together to focus their collective efforts on addressing pivotal areas of a child’s development: early learning and development, elementary benchmarks, successful transition to middle school and high school, on-time high school graduation, and successful enrollment and matriculation from postsecondary education and career tracks. This includes not only delivering high-quality programming inside and outside of schools, but also delivering policy and systems change to break down barriers to opportunity for all residents of a community.
Developing the robust infrastructure to support, sustain, and scale-up an effective cradle-to-career continuum requires a long-term commitment and discipline across a broad range of stakeholders. By coordinating and aligning resources to address the full range of challenges facing children and families in a given neighborhood, wraparound educational supports can do more than improve school outcomes for students — a 2015 return-on-investment study found that, conservatively, every dollar invested in the Northside Achievement Zone in North Minneapolis produced a social return of more than six dollars.
For more resources on wraparound educational supports, see the Promise Neighborhoods Institute at PolicyLink (PNI), the Harlem Children’s Zone, the Coalition for Community Schools, and StriveTogether.