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Kids growing up in low-income urban communities suffer disproportionately from what researchers call Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE), traumas ranging from violence in their neighborhoods to neglect at home, compounded by gross poverty levels, that diminish their ability to learn.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ACEs are linked to risky health behaviors, chronic health conditions, and low life potential. “As the number of ACEs increase, so does the risk for these outcomes,” the CDC says.

How can educators teach a hungry, victimized child without first addressing those barriers to learning? A key solution is taking a holistic approach to urban education.

During this final week of April, NewsOne’s Saving Tomorrow, Today! education platform focuses on educating the whole child.

Our journey kicks off with a study titled “Barriers to Wellness: Voices and Views from Young People in Five Cities,” which explores the traumas African-American teenagers report experiencing in their communities and schools.

“They are living under siege—over-policed, undervalued, and marginalized,” said researchers from Boston University’s Center for Promise.

Indeed, African-American students living in underserved neighborhoods face the formidable task of succeeding in life while trapped in schools and communities that fail to support them.

They are struggling to succeed at a time when state and local spending on incarceration has increased at triple the rate of public education funding, the U.S. Department of Education reported. That speaks volumes about priorities.

Educators and communities have a shared responsibility to support our children. To that end, the University of Phoenix and the National Action Network are partnering to reconnect schools and communities.

Jessica Johnson, the principal at Booker T. Washington Middle School in Baltimore, joined me for a Facebook Live chat on April 27 to talk about how she and her team are addressing the trauma’s their students bring with them to school.

On April 28, I will tweet live from the National Action Network convention, steamed live beginning at 10:30 a.m. EDT. The session, titled “The Role of Education in Black America,” is divided into two parts. The first panel focuses on the holistic approach to education, and the second panel looks at the role of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Through a holistic approach, we can remove these barriers to our children’s success.


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