Common Good: Turning hardship into leadership
We all need that safe place—that physical space that feels like home. It’s where we land to retreat, to find support, and to feel loved. Whether it’s your own home, a church, school, or a friend’s house, we all long for that safety net. But there are areas where that safe place is harder to find.
People who live in high-poverty neighborhoods have less access to that safety net, less access to jobs, services, high-quality education, parks, safe streets, and affordable, healthy food. Not exactly a perfect picture of economic and social success to the average eye. And people of color are much more likely than their white counterparts to live in high-poverty neighborhoods, even if they are not poor. Gentrification can also complicate matters.
Research shows that a child’s likelihood of future success decreases when they are living in a high-poverty area. Schools in these districts consistently have high dropout rates and low test scores. But after-school programs in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty are working hard to change these statistics. They are rapidly becoming places that families and students can call a second home, a second family. Studies indicate that when students from low-income families participate in quality after-school programs, they gain improved work habits and higher persistence levels.
Common Good, a community in a low-income neighborhood in North Lexington, is one of these after-school programs. And it’s thriving. Over 75 students, grades K – 12, enter Common Good each day to learn, play, share a warm meal, and connect. More than sixty mentors tirelessly volunteer their time each week. Through education, recreation, creativity, and meaningful relationships, students and families feel safe and loved. From that space of support, leaders emerge.
We wanted to help Common Good share their stories, to communicate more widely that they aren’t just an after-school program. They invest in their students and families. They are a beacon of hope in an area of concentrated poverty. A new identity communicates their innovative culture and influences more involvement from current and new stakeholders.