Almost three years ago to the date, I wrote about a special recognition of the City of Albuquerque and Los Alamos as one of the 100 best communities for young people. The recognition came from America's Promise Alliance, an organization that recognizes communities for trying to live up to Five Promises to help children succeed:
• Caring adults
• Safe spaces
• Healthy start
• Effective education
• Opportunity to help others.
The first president of America’s Promise Alliance was retired General and former Secretary of State Colin Powell. His wife Alma succeeded him as president and together they have continued their advocacy on behalf of children. Today’s news that reminded me of my post is a joint announcement by America’s Promise Alliance leaders, Colin and Alma Powell along with the Secretary of Education, and the President of the United States. They are launching Grad Nation, a ten-year campaign to reverse the dropout rate in schools and propel the United States into the lead for highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2010.
Relevance to Real Estate
What does this announcement by America’s Promise Alliance have to do with real estate, you may ask? Especially in light of our current economic downturn, it has everything to do with real estate. Individuals and businesses are attracted to communities where quality-of-ife especially as it relates to living, working and raising families has value. Where there are families, business will follow and commerce will flourish.
Albuquerque’s recognition by America’s Promise Alliance as a great place for young people three years ago is today even more valuable because of the Alliance’s credibility and enduring commitment to children's welfare, as evidenced by today’s announcement. The recognition influenced many people's decision to relocate to New Mexico.
However, in New Mexico schools, the dropout rate is considered high. According to research by America’s Promise Alliance, the state is not unique because 1 in 3 students nationwide fail to graduate from high school. In New Mexico, we also have a richly diverse culture, a significant proportion of which includes Native Americans and Hispanics. Research also shows that less than 50 percent of Native Americans and slightly more than half of African American and Hispanic students graduate from high school. Every 26 seconds a student drops out of school in America, adding up to more than 1.3 million per year.
Research also shows that young people who drop out of school are twice as likely as graduates to be unemployed, three times as likely to live in poverty, eight times more likely to end up in prison and twice as likely to be parents of children who drop out. With these statistics, it appears that we are already losing a significant proportion of people who could be clients in adulthood. If the trend continues, where will our future buyers of real estate come from? Certainly not from people outside the workforce, in prison or living in poverty. Besides, these lost clients with their attendant needs will be part of a society that will bear the cost of their disability, thus creating a drain on available resources. Not only the real estate industry but all of society will be adversely affected.
I know of several organizations and community grassroots efforts that are currently trying to grapple with improving the low graduation and high dropout rates. The announcement of Grad Nation is a step in the right direction towards solving a national problem. It gives the problem a high profile, broadens awareness, and seeks to unify and mobilize support for job security and quality of life not only for real estate professionals but the entire society.