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Our Kids: Narrowing The Opportunity Gap

Our Kids: Narrowing The Opportunity Gap

Host Dr. Robert Putnam (Harvard Professor and author of BOWLING ALONE) spotlights innovative leaders and children, working together in nine communities, who struggle to create and inspire solutions that help to narrow the widening opportunity gap between rich and poor for some 30 million young people denied access to the American Dream. We hope viewers will try to build similar solutions in their neighborhoods.

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Seattle, WA & Columbus, OH. Giving hope to the hopeless dominates the stories in Seattle, WA and Columbus, OH. Among those spotlighted are: a program to reform the foster care system, and an organization reuniting children with parents who were incarcerated. Too many poor youth end up in the juvenile justice system. The Echo Glen facility hopes to heal, rather than punish young incarcerated teens.

Children living in fractured homes and poverty can't achieve equally with children who are financially and emotionally secure. Underserved children need extra services to be competitive. Equal is not Equitable. We illustrate this point in Duluth, MN, Boston, MA, Springfield, MO, and Nashville, TN. A grade school offers wrap-around-services including free food, family meals, clothing, laundry, and medical services.

Detroit Educational Crisis. With deteriorating class room conditions and the worst test scores in the nation, this alarming episode casts its eye on the current educational crisis in Detroit. In this cautionary tale, both public and unregulated charter schools suffer from high teacher turnover, a shortage of up-to-date textbooks, lack of funding and financial accountability. We visit with students, teachers, parents and educational leaders in their innovative attempts to improve conditions.

Riverside, CA & Manchester, NH. The importance of mentors is illustrated in stories like that of a police detective starting a free judo school to "bait and switch" kids onto a better path. A revolutionary accelerated kindergarten program propels disadvantaged children by celebrating their smartness. Living in a homeless shelter designed around the needs of families, a little girl expresses her pride and determination in song.

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