Tough talk on how children succeed

Nicole Brodeur to host Tough talk on how children succeed at Solid Ground’s 13th Annual Building Community Luncheon, April 5

Paul Tough, best-selling author

Paul Tough, best-selling author

For nearly 40 years, Solid Ground has grappled with how to effectively end poverty for families and individuals. How do people build the foundation they need so that they and their children can thrive?

On April 5, 2013, we are bringing best-selling author Paul Tough to our Building Community Luncheon to help us find out. (Noon – 1:30 pm at the Westin Hotel, 1900 5th Ave. Guests asked to give a suggested minimum donation of $150.)

“Paul Tough has scoured the science and met the people who are challenging what we thought we knew about childhood and success,” said author Charles Duhigg. “And now he has written the instruction manual. Every parent should read this book – and every policymaker, too.”

To that we add: Every social change agent should read it – and hear from Paul Tough as well!

Tough’s How Children Succeed picks up where his look at Geoffrey Canada and the Harlem Children’s Zone left off. In it, he presents cutting edge research from neuroscientists and psychologists about the challenges that most significantly impact young children, especially those growing up in poverty. Educators weigh in on some of the most promising school- and community-based interventions.

As Solid Ground interacts with kids from families living on low-incomes in school-based programs through Washington Reading Corps, Apple Corps and Penny Harvest – and houses an increasing population of young children – we continue to build and refine our own models of support for families moving from crises to thriving.

The Luncheon will shed light on the generational success stories coming out of our Broadview program, which has been responding to the needs of women and kids experiencing homelessness, most of them victims of domestic violence, for more than 20 years. And we will engage Tough in a dynamic conversation that moves beyond a standard keynote speaker’s recitation of the highlights of their book.

Nicole Brodeur

Nicole Brodeur

Noted local journalist Nicole Brodeur of the Seattle Times will emcee the event and lead a conversation with Tough focusing on how a social justice agency like Solid Ground can incorporate new understandings and best practices into our work.

In the New York Times Sunday Book Review, Annie Murphy Paul said that Tough’s work “illuminates the extremes of American childhood: for rich kids, a safety net drawn so tight it’s a harness; for poor kids, almost nothing to break their fall.”

Much of the book revolves around a developing thesis that success is based more on character traits than cognitive skills. Among the most important is learning how to manage and overcome failure.

Tough looks at science that demonstrates how our adrenal response to environmental stress can program us for failure. Neuroscientists and psychologists weigh in on how growing up in poverty creates stress and trauma that lead to “impaired social skills, an inability to sit still and follow directions, and what teachers perceive as misbehavior.”

“Despite these children’s intense needs, school reformers have not been very successful at creating interventions that work for them; they have done much better at creating interventions that work for children from better-off low-income families, those making $41,000 a year. No one has found a reliable way to help deeply disadvantaged children, in fact. Instead, what we have created is a disjointed, ad hoc system of governmental agencies and programs that follow them haphazardly through their childhood and adolescence,” Tough writes.

But, having said that, Tough documents reformers in schools and other settings whose efforts are making an impact on their communities, and offers learnings that can influence our work in Seattle and beyond.

“But we could design an entirely different system for children who are dealing with deep and pervasive adversity at home,” Tough writes.

Come join us on April 5 to be part of this conversation and hear directly from Tough what Solid Ground and you can do to help children succeed.

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