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Bringing The Opportunity Equation Conversation to Atlanta!

October 9, 2014

Today’s post is part of AmeriCorps Alums’ REALTalk series on race, equity, and AmeriCorps alumni as leaders.

Youth Villages AmeriCorps

AmeriCorps members from Youth Villages mingling with other alums, and Eric Schwarz

AmeriCorps Alums hosted Eric Schwarz, the Co-Founder and former CEO of Citizen Schools, in Atlanta for a conversation on closing the achievement gap in our schools and the role citizens play in achieving that goal as part of The Opportunity Equation book tour. Before reading from his book, Eric spent time signing books and meeting with current Corps members and alums and community leaders.

Eric shared how we live in a time of greater educational innovation, but also of greater inequality. The achievement gap between students from lower-income families and those from higher-income families has doubled in recent years. What’s the key to closing this gap?

AmeriCorps Alums staff with Eric Schwarz. From left to right: Greg Heinrich, Eric Schwarz, Maria Caruso, and Ben Duda.

AmeriCorps Alums staff with Eric Schwarz. From left to right: Greg Heinrich, Eric Schwarz, Maria Caruso, and Ben Duda.

In The Opportunity Equation, Eric suggests that this achievement gap is caused not by the opportunities during the school day, but by the lack of  learning opportunities after and beyond the school day. What higher-income families can access to a greater degree than lower-income families is what Eric calls our country’s “shadow education” system. It’s access to internships, summer camps, after school programs, arts enrichment, and more. It’s also the chance to engage with a network of tutors, mentors, and experts in their field.

“America’s greatest asset is its citizen power”- Eric Schwarz, in interview on NPR affiliate WGBH

booktalk_CSIf we put kids in front of enough opportunities through expanded learning time and apprenticeships with experts in their fields, Eric believes each child will find their momentum and discover their talents. How do we help start that momentum? With citizens, Eric says, and with millions more AmeriCorps members and citizen volunteers. To learn more about the power of citizenship, Citizen Schools, and The Opportunity Equation, watch our webinar with Eric (& AmeriCorps alum Jessica Graham from Cisco Community Relations) on-demand here and see more pictures from last night’s event on our Facebook page!

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