Empowering Discussions

Memphis Is Fighting Poverty By Paying Youth To Attend School

The United States has been offering educational aid for college students since 1965 when the Higher Education Act(HEA) was signed into law. In just about every career having a degree increases your financial and advancement options. It’s also really fun to study a subject that you are passionate about. Education is not just about financial success, but personal growth. So why not extend federal aid to students who want to attend High School, but are uninspired? It took me a while to understand how important education is so it’s no surprise that others would have similar experiences.

The Family Rewards Program was created to entice youth into going to school by seeing real payoff in the form cash. Originally started in New York it expanded to Memphis, TN with the support of both federal and private funding. The incentive program is only available to families who are receiving public assistance and awards youth with cash for earning good grades and attending school. It also supports parents by providing them with a monthly cash bonus for working full-time and attending regular dentist and doctor visits.

We have a few of social programs designed to lift people out of poverty such as food stamps, rental and employment assistance, and farm subsidies, but education is what’s missing. Around the world it has been shown again and again that educating people gives them a chance to end the often generational cycle of poverty.  As expected with new ideas there are those who criticize the idea for philosophical reasons and because it’s hard to measure an exact monetary payoff, but we know that lifting people out of poverty reduces tax dollars spent on social safety net programs, healthcare expenses, and crime. People aren’t perfect and neither is everything we create.  Regardless of the naysayers, this program is coming into its third year with proof in the youth who are staying in school and attending college.

Watch the PBS video about this new social program.

You can also read the latest articcle in Politico, politico.com/multimedia/magazine/video/2014/08/why-memphis-is-going-back-to-school-to-fight-poverty.html?ml=vi_1  

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