Nicole Baker Fulgham is the Founder and President of ‘The Expectations Project'. The Expectations Project is a National Non-Profit Organization whose mission is to mobilize and equip faith motivated advocates to help improve low income public schools in the USA. They see themselves as working on behalf of kids in some of the poorest communities to help improve their schools as an extension of our faith and biblical call and to live out issues of justice and service in the world. They aim to help close the achievement gap as right now there are about 16 million children in the USA who are living in poverty and when you look at their achievement rates only half of them will graduate from high school and only 10% of them will graduate from college. Every child is made in the image of God and has incredible potential but we have to have school systems that are set up to ensure they are able to access that potential.
Nicole grew up in Detroit, Michigan and they are known for not having quality public schools. She was fortunate to get into an exam public high school where you take a test to get in and then you have access to amazing teachers and resources. When you walked in on day one you started with your college plan. 99% of the students went on to 4 year college programs. However her friends in her neighborhood went to a school that had none of that. Half of her friends dropped out of high school because the disparity was just so stark. As she grew in her faith in college she had a challenge with the fact that she got something because of where she was and her friends didn't and it seems so inequitable when she knew the potential they had. In college she joined, ‘Teach for America' and went to teach in Compton, California and saw many challenges she saw growing up but this time saw the issues as a teacher. Invited people in to help and she saw her kids grow tremendously. It showed her that every child has potential if we give them the right structure to achieve that.
They believe that our society needs to raise our expectations on what kids can achieve. That however is a big mindset shift and so they want more advocates to speak up on behalf of the possibilities for the kids in our communities. As people of faith we are the ones who are called to see things that are not as though they would be. We need to be the ones to share what is possible for all of God's kids. We need to build awareness about the scope of the problem and teach people what is working in public schools. If we all work together we can see systemic change in our school system.
They encourage people of faith within their churches to build awareness in their communities. Then someone in your congregation should reach out to a school that is struggling and with no agenda and ask what you can do to help. Develop a plan then on what you can do moving forward.