Educational inequality is prevalent in American society. Many factors can contribute that can affect educational attainment of students. These factors include poverty, hunger, immigration, and housing.
A child in poverty is more likely to experience hunger and food insecurity that can lead to poor academic achievement including fewer math and reading gains throughout elementary school. America has become a melting pot of cultures and many students have immigrated to the U.S from other places in the world. Families that have immigrated tend to live in less affluent neighborhoods that belong to poorer school districts. The students may need additional help to catch up with native students.
We really were not sure where to begin since our umbrella theme, the social roots of educational inequality, was so large. However, when we thought about it housing seems to play a large role in educational inequality. Children living in poverty are more likely to be in communities that do not offer enough support for them to thrive.
We got into contact with Community Partners for Affordable Housing (CPAH), which is a non-profit organization that provides low-income families with affordable housing. In addition to that they provide their residents with summer youth programs, after-school programs hosted in the community centers of the apartment complexes. These community centers provide a meeting room, technology, and recreation for students. They currently own seven apartment complexes, and collaborate with 17 other organizations to best serve their residents.
We know that many rental properties are too costly for the income that many of these families have. CPAH provides affordable housing as well as many resources for these families to thrive. We did our project at the Oleson Woods apartment complex, which is owned by CPAH. We wanted to create a pleasant atmosphere in the community room that would facilitate learning. We deep cleaned the community room and moved much of the furniture to open up the area and make it a livelier environment for students. We also created a fully furnished reading corner with a rug, stuffed animals, bookshelves, and placed books on display in hopes that it would give students an incentive to read.
We hope that by creating a pleasant atmosphere it will allow students to stay focused, as well as encourage more reading to occur. Children’s educational performance will improve if they feel that they are in an environment that supports them.
CPAH does a great job in not only providing affordable housing but by providing resources for families so that children can thrive in their environment, and feel supported.
Please see our project video HERE and let us know what you think!