Who Would have Guessed: Addressing Class Inequality Can Transform Neighborhoods

Think about this

In 1993, millionaire Harris Rosen “adopted” a run-down, drug-infested section of Orlando called Tangelo Park. Rosen offers free preschool for all children prior to kindergarten and a free college education for high school graduates. Today, the high school graduation rate for Tangelo Park is 100 percent. And no, that is not a typo.

First Let me Give you the Story

rosen-hug2Tangelo Park is built on land once used for orange groves. Originally built as housing for workers at the nearby Martin Marietta, it has become an isolated residential area. There are few services nearby for residents, and few public transit options. African Americans comprise 90 percent of the community, with many living below the poverty line.

“I fell in love with the neighborhood,” says Rosen. “I knew I wanted to do some type of scholarship program for them.” The Tangelo Park Program, started in 1993, gives every neighborhood child age 2 to 4 access to free preschool. Parents have access to parenting classes, vocational courses and technical training.

For a program that took just one hour and four people to develop, the impact has been wide and deep. Tangelo Park Elementary is now a grade-A school. Every high school senior graduates. But there’s more. Much more.

Every high school graduate who is accepted to a Florida public university, community or state college, or vocational school receives a full Harris Rosen Foundation scholarship, which covers tuition, living and educational expenses through graduation. Nearly 200 students have earned Rosen scholarships, and of those, 75 percent have graduated from college—the highest rate among an ethnic group in the nation.

What this means …

 I was inspired by a comment made by fellow blogger trophos aka The Dancing Professor to really explore the implication of class inequality on crime and violence. After having done some research and thought I would make a series out of it here on the blog for your enjoyment. I’d like to hear your opinions on it. But before that let me leave you some interesting facts I got from: http://www.poverties.org/poverty-and-crime.html . Reading the following facts and more on the website vindicated a lot of the crap I heard growing up about blacks being wild, prone to violence and animalistic behaviors, anyway more on that later.


CASE 1: During the hard times that have hit Europe from 1975 to 1995, scholars noticed that unemployment among the uneducated youth spurred a massive tendency for theft and violence. In particular in France, the crime rate soared like never before.

CASE 2: … across 20 cities in the US analyses how local inequalities and heterogeneous populations can influence crime rates. As ever more countries face problems related to immigration, policymakers should be aware that inequality, even within one ethnic group, is a major cause of crime.


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