Education is the Key to Opportunity

by Beth Zinn, Program Director, True Charity Community Initiative


As our community prepares to send our children back to school this month, we decided to take this opportunity and talk about the importance of education as a crucial pillar in our collective fight against poverty. The ELM Foundation’s mission, after all, focuses on creating “little miracles” in the lives of those we serve by providing opportunities for educational advancement in their journey to self-sufficiency.

In late July, we met with Eric Cochling, Chief Program Officer and General Counsel, for
the Georgia Center for Opportunity. That organization’s mission focuses on “removing barriers to ensure that every person — no matter their race, past mistakes, or the circumstances of their birth — has access to a quality education, fulfilling work, and a healthy family life.” During our conversation, Eric mentioned and described the “Success Sequence,” which resonated with us because of the work we do here at The ELM Foundation.

The Success Sequence is a proven formula to help young adults succeed in America. It suggests that if young adults obtain at least a high school degree, get a full-time job, and get married before having children, they will be on a path that leads to prosperity regardless of gender, race, or background. In fact, the latest research shows that 97% of young people who follow all three steps are not poor as adults. What is more, 90% of young adults who complete the first two steps are not poor in their 30s. In comparison, 52% of adults in their 30s who missed all three steps are in poverty.

According to the Institute for Family Studies, an organization dedicated to strengthening marriage and family life and advancing the well-being of children through research and public education, young adults who complete the Success Sequence, even in the face of big challenges, have a much better shot at achieving success. This is true for every race and economic background in America. The vast majority of black (96%) and Hispanic (97%) Millennials who followed this sequence were not poor by their mid-30s, along with 94% of Millennials who grew up in poor families, and 95% of those who grew up in single-parent families.

As the Georgia Center for Opportunity puts it, “no matter the challenges young people face, there is a path to build a bright future — through the Success Sequence.” And the Success Sequence starts with education. Please consider sharing the Success Sequence with your family, friends and co-workers. Everyone deserves to know this “secret to success.”

To learn more about the Success Sequence, visit the Georgia Center for Opportunity or Institute for Family Studies

by Beth Zinn

True Charity Community Initiative, Program Director

"Compassion is a powerful force, a stamp of the Divine nature within our spirits." -Robert D. Lupton