Poor Children Most Likely To Stay Poor In Memphis

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(Memphis) One in three people live in poverty in Memphis, and the Urban Child Institute says it's because of three things: available jobs, education, and parent involvement with their children.

They say Memphis is lacking in those areas, creating a big problem with poverty.

A new study by Harvard and University of California Berkley found children in Memphis who are born into poverty are more likely to stay poor because the city is the most economically segregated in the nation, meaning poor neighborhoods are clustered together and more wealthy neighborhoods are off on their own.

“We in a sense race toward the bottom by doing as little for kids as we can. Particularly for very young children. We invest very little compared to other cities,” said Doug Imig, Resident Fellow with the Urban Child Institute.

Imig says Memphis’s lack of investment for early child education can be seen through this year’s cuts to pre-K.

“If a community invests in its children by investing in the strongest possible school system they will attract businesses. By attracting businesses you attract the kind of opportunities that help children thrive,” said Imig.

The study says a child born into poverty in Memphis between 1980 and 1985 has less than a three percent chance of becoming wealthy.

Lucas Bowdery lives in Orange Mound and says he’s noticed a cycle of poverty in his neighborhood.

“It is hard for some people around here. You can just look and see how things are, and no one I know has been born with a silver spoon in their mouth,” said Bowdery.

The Urban Child Institute says parent involvement by reading to children at a young age and giving them love and attention could be the first step in fighting poverty because a child’s home is their first classroom.