Educational Equity

Why is this issue important?


  • The North Carolina Department of Instruction offers yearly grades based on school performance indicators. In 2017, Alamance County schools with the lowest reviews were those with the highest poverty rates (Burlington Times News).
  • Nearly 60% of public school students in North Carolina qualified for free or reduced lunch during the 2016-17 school year (NC Public
  • As of 2015, 21.6% of adults in Alamance County had a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to 28.4% average statewide in North Carolina (U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey).
  • 1 in 4 public schools in America is a high-poverty school, which is double the rate from the early 1990’s (National Center for Education Statistics).

Youth Development

Definition: Positive youth development can be defined as providing young people with the agency to make decisions about their lives while helping them meet their needs and live meaningful lives. This requires giving them access to resources, opportunities and training that will allow them to successfully engage with the systems and institutions that will help them realize their dreams and goals. Youth development can be promoted through a variety of ways such as mentoring, afterschool programs, and ensuring the physical and mental well-being of young people (National Alliance for Secondary Education and Transition).

  • In the U.S., black and Hispanic youth are more likely to drop out of high school than non-Hispanic white or Asian youth. In 2016, 5% of non-Hispanic white youth were not enrolled in high school, compared to 6% of black youth and 9% of Hispanic youth (
  • 18% of children between the ages of 0 and 17 were living in poverty in 2016 in the U.S. (
  • An estimated 4.5 million at-risk young people in the U.S. will have a structured mentoring relationship while growing up ( in 3 young people will grow up without a mentor. Research confirms that quality mentoring relationships have positive effects on young people in a variety of personal, academic and professional situations (
  • At-risk young adults who had a mentor are more likely to aspire to enroll in and graduate from college than those who did not have a mentor – 76 % versus 56% (

Opportunities for Involvement

Alamance Community College

Tutor adults and other college-age students enrolled in ESL, GED, and other ACC classes. Email for more information.

America Reads

Tutor in reading and math at elementary schools and afterschool centers. Email for more information.

Boys and Girls Club

Mentor and support children in a long-standing local afterschool program.

Center for New North Carolinians

Support immigrant and refugee families and children.

CityGate Dream Center

Support programming and activities for the local Latinx community.

It Takes a Village Project

Connect with community partners to help children in the community who are struggling to read. Participate in weekly tutoring sessions.

Sampling of Elon Courses Relates To The Issue

For more information on these courses listed, view the Elon Course Catalog.

  • COR 342: Understanding Educational Disparities in the United States
  • Education 211: Education and Society
  • Education 333: Supporting Emotional and Social Development in Early Childhood
  • Education 451: Teaching Diverse Learners
  • Human Service Studies 311: Social Policy and Inequality
  • Human Service Studies 367: Play Therapy
  • Human Service Studies 368: Childhood and Human Services
  • Poverty and Social Justice 110: Introduction to Poverty Studies
  • Psychology 241: Social Psychology
  • Psychology 245: Early Childhood Development
  • Psychology 321: Educational Psychology
  • Psychology 368: The Psychology of Leadership
  • Psychology 382: Child Psychopathology
  • Sociology 243: Sociology of Education

Questions for Reflection


  • What role does education play in creating strong communities?
  • What assumptions, if any, do you have about education in Alamance County? What have you heard and where have you heard it from?
  • Social issues are complex and multi-faceted. What other social issues are connected to educational inequality?
  • Does our society place education as a requirement for social mobility?
  • Do you think there is a tipping point to the rising costs of higher education? Will there be a time when it will become unaffordable for most families?
  • Where does education take place and by whom? How does our society value formal education vs. “street smarts”?
  • How can our society’s regard for education be seen in our society’s treatment of educators?

Youth Development

  • What comes to mind when you think of the term “youth development?”
  • How has mentoring impacted your life?
  • What role does education play in helping to create strong communities?
  • Who is responsible for a child’s development?
  • What role should schools and teachers play for at-risk students?
  • Social issues are complex and multi-faceted. What other social issues are connected to access to education?
  • What can be done outside of the classroom to positively impact youth development?
  • What current systems maintain the problems surrounding youth development and how can they be addressed?
  • Whose voice is missing in the conversation around youth development?
  • How can you use the knowledge and skills you are gaining in college to address youth development?