Current Reality

In 2010 Dr. Ezeh, in collaboration with ELNC, published The Current Reality Report, exposing the reality that many vulnerable children in our community face. The research showed:


The current birth rate in the ELNC Target Neighborhood
is around 1,389.

66

of these births are covered through Medicaid
26

of families in this neighborhood live with incomes below the poverty level
55

of infants born here go home with mothers who do not have a high school diploma
20

of children in this neighborhood go home to teen mothers
These facts alone cause serious concern regarding the quality of a child’s early learning and developmental environment. The data also pointed to a SERIOUS lack of capacity in quality full day Pre-School Programs: In 2010, GRPS could, at best, accommodate about 20% of the children needing services.

At the same time this Current Reality Report was published, the Grand Rapids Public School System released the following information:

83% of children entering kindergarten scored less than proficient in a composite of key literacy indicators.

When asked why 83% of children were unprepared for kindergarten, ELNC found research that demonstrates:

“The Social, Physical and cognitive development of a child is negatively impacted when, beginning with their prenatal experience and continuing through early childhood, they are surrounded by an environment of poverty.” AND, “As a child reaches the age of 4, especially those children who have not experienced ideal developmental environments previously, the availability and access to quality preschool is critical to their future success in school.”  

In other words, students in our target neighborhoods are especially vulnerable to stunted academic development because of the economic and social environment they are placed in. Without access to high-quality early childhood education to intervene during this critical development period, it is no wonder that in 2010 GRPS had a graduation rate only slightly over 50%.

The connection between a lack of kindergarten preparation, economic and social poverty, and the scarce access to childhood education services made by The Current Reality Report could not be ignored, and the status quo was no longer acceptable. Under the leadership of Dr. Ezeh and our founding board, ELNC began its evolution from grass roots initiative to a fully operational organization fueled by a vision of a community where all children, regardless of the neighborhood in which they live, are able to thrive developmentally and educationally allowing them to fully embrace their potential and become self-sufficient adults.