Washington DC represents the power and dreams of the nation and the world. Yet, low-income children living within sight of the landmarks that define the most powerful city in the most powerful country in the world face a life of violent crime, substance abuse, unemployment and one of the nation's worst public school systems.
Elementary and middle school children in Washington's most distressed neighborhoods are the victims of unfulfilled dreams - the dream of a better future through education. Center City Consortium schools make this dream a reality. Twelve schools offering elementary and middle school education constitute the Consortium and provide 2,400 at-risk children with the opportunities and the tools needed to break the cycle of poverty and deprivation that defines many of their lives. At risk factors have become the tiresome excuse of those who repeatedly fail to successfully educate Washington's children. Center City Consortium schools recognized the potential inherent in children, understand the power of research-based academic programs and are aware the power of partnerships.
From 2000 to 2006, students enrolled in Center City schools achieved significant academic gains with reading scores rising 60.6 percent, math scores up 78 percent and language scores improving 38 percent. Children enrolled in Center City schools mirror the student profile of inner-city neighborhoods - 60 percent are low-income, nearly all are minority, 74 percent are non-catholic and 33 percent receive federally funded tuition vouchers. Yet the dramatic improvements in academic performance of students enrolled in Center City schools are clearly the result of relentless efforts to establish and cultivate rigorous assessment data to guide instruction. The Center City model reflects some of the best practices at work in education today - rigorous curriculum and instruction, strong leadership and a culture of encouraging others to become leaders. Additionally, centralized and streamlined business operations allow principals and teachers to focus on students. Center City's award winning programs are so successful that the approach has become a national model for urban education.
The schools of the Consortium have a history of teaching values and successfully serving and educating children in the District of Columbia. Caring and competent teachers, a safe environment and a proven curriculum empower children to reach their highest potential in spite of their circumstances. Kristian Smith, the poised young man who received a standing ovation at the 2006 CharityWorks Dream Ball, is a product of a Center City Consortium education.
As Kristian said, educational excellence has a price and yet the solution is not money alone. The CharityWorks' partnership will help develop new programs, such as Failure Free Reading and give children "hope over chaos" and a better chance to succeed in a city that has for far too long offered inadequate educational pathways to its vulnerable citizens.