Why Do Some Poor Kids Thrive?

Why Do Some Poor Kids Thrive?

Researchers tracked hundreds of students in Baltimore to find out what top achievers had that others didn’t.


By Alana Semuels
Image: Patrick Semansky
Article Originally Published by The Atlantic


Despite the challenge of growing up in tough areas with few resources, thousands of inner city kids manage to excel academically. But even some students who seem to thrive early on run a significant risk of faltering on their quest for college degrees or the elite jobs they once envisioned. So what’s the deciding factor behind kids who meet their potential and those who wind up falling short?

That’s the question undertaken by researchers Stefanie DeLuca, Susan Clampet-Lundquist, and Kathryn Edin, in the book Coming of Age in the Other America.Written in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray, a young man whose death while in police custody in Baltimore ignited a conversation about race, poverty, and opportunity in urban cores, the authors attempt to provide an evidence-based assessment of kids who grew up in the 1980s and 1990s in that city.

The story that had unfolded over our decade of research was strikingly different from the ‘thug’ narrative spun by politicians and news anchors alike” about kids in Baltimore, they write, in their introduction.

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