Using Education to Break the Bonds of Poverty

By Tyler Pearson

AmeriCorps VISTA Tyler Pearson is the Social Media Coordinator and Webmaster for the Huntsville Network for Urban School Renewal.

It’s common knowledge that poverty has been a particularly formidable foe, and its resistance to solutions creates harmful residual effects – especially for children trying to escape its clutches. The Huntsville Network for Urban School Renewal (HNUSR) is working to help children break free of this legacy, and I am proud to be able to contribute to the solution.

Nine schools in Huntsville, AL, have been classified as “Title I Schools” according to Alabama Plan 2020, which means they are considered “failing” because students are not meeting their grade level requirements nor successfully passing to continue their education. The majority of the students in these schools are predominantly African-American or from other minority groups.

HNUSR serves low-income communities by providing families access to higher education and mitigating poverty-related factors that stagnates students’ progress in the classroom.  Huntsville — which was named the fourth “Geekiest City” in America in 2012 and employs 16 percent of its workforce in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) jobs — is a great place to utilize a population of educated professionals to take on this challenge.

We take two-fold approach to help students succeed at HNUSR. First, we prepare students who attend Title I Schools to be college and career ready.  Second, we build sustainable and resilient communities during that process through community development initiatives.

HNUSR understands that every child does not learn at the same pace and at the same time realizes many may have different factors outside the classroom (e.g., family concerns, financial issues, access to resources, etc.) that blocks their ability to learn.

Our CEO and Founder, Dr. Edward L. Jones, Ph.D., is still continuing the development of the organization’s mission through a variety of programs. Earlier this month, HNUSR started its first after-school program, which will be held on the campus of Alabama A&M University within the School of Education.

In collaboration with this project, Dr. Angela Williams, Ph.D., and her class of aspiring teaching professionals will teach, tutor, and mentor children for duration of the program. The network intends to create a close-knit community of teachers, students and each child’s parents that will connect everyone together.

In addition, HNUSR has been selected as a sponsor to host a Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School on the campus of Alabama A&M University this summer. We’re looking into making HNUSR a TouchPoint Site for early-childhood development as well as hoping to begin a Parent Academy, and a College Promise program.

AmeriCorps VISTA Tyler Pearson is the Social Media Coordinator and Webmaster for the Huntsville Network for Urban School Renewal.

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