Helping children and youth achieve their potential

Education is the cornerstone of individual and community success. It’s essential to getting and keeping a job with a livable wage and health benefits, and it’s fundamental to a community’s economic prosperity. This connection was keenly noted through UWMCs facilitated focus group discussion on Income in which the participants frequently cited Education as one of the most critical underlying factors to financial stability. Data also supports the link between educational attainment and poverty. For example, of all the people in our county who are living below the poverty level, over 65% of them either have only a high school education (including a GED) or have never completed high school.

Community Income levels are likewise a significant contributing factor to academic achievement. The Education Impact subcommittee demonstrated this relationship by comparing educational data, such as NJASK scores, HSPA scores, drop out and graduation rates for Monmouth County schools with child poverty rates. Their research showed that the towns and school districts with the highest child poverty rates in our county are also those with the overall lowest academic performance measures:

• Asbury Park
• Bradley Beach
• Freehold Borough
• Highlands
• Keansburg
• Long Branch
• Neptune City
• Neptune Township
• Red Bank Borough
• South Belmar/Lake Como

Research also shows that disadvantaged children can come to school years behind their peers in pre-reading skills, and they may never catch up. By 3rd grade, a child’s grades and absenteeism rates can predict with 90% accuracy whether he or she will complete high school.

Along with leading to better jobs and higher income, high school graduation and educational attainment is also linked with other attributes such as longer life expectancy, lower incidents of babies born at low-birth weight, lower rates of obesity and lower rates of incarceration.