Press Release

New Research Brief by America’s Promise Alliance Finds Income Level is Biggest Influence on Youth Access to Five Promises

Results Show Higher Family Income Means Safer Schools, Neighborhoods and Higher Quality of After-school Activities

ALEXANDRIA, VA –The America’s Promise Alliance (the Alliance) today announced the release of its second national research brief titled “The Promise Rich vs. The Promise Poor,” which examined the association between a family’s income and the presence of the Five Promises in their child’s life. The results show that although two-thirds of American youth are not receiving a critical mass of the Promises, this deficit is far greater for those children who reside in low-income households and that deficit is particularly apparent with regard to unsafe schools and neighborhoods, not parental effort.

This report is part of a series of research briefs on issues impacting American youth and their families based on the Alliance’s landmark research study, Every Child, Every Promise: Turning Failure into Action (ECEP) which was the first nationwide report to comprehensively measure the presence of the Five Promises in the lives of America’s school-age children (ages 6-17). The Five Promises are the key developmental resources—caring adults; safe places; a healthy start; an effective education; and opportunities to help others—that children and youth need at home, school and in their communities in order to lead the most productive and healthy lives.

Those children identified as “Promise-Rich” experience four-to-five of the Promises, whereas children identified as “Promise-Poor” experienced zero or one Promise. Overall, children in high-income families were more than twice as likely as those in low-income families to be Promise-Rich. The biggest difference was found in the Safe Places Promise (Promise Two) where ECEP found a 28 percentage point difference between high and low income families. More than half of children from high-income families reported that they had safe places to learn and grow, compared to only 23 percent of children from low-income families.

One area where income levels did not correlate strongly with Promise presence was with the Caring Adults Promise (Promise One). ECEP found that children living in households earning less than $30,000 annually were almost just as likely as those living in households earning six figures to have a caring adult in their lives who provides support, encouragement and a safe home environment for them. In total, more than 80 percent of children in all income groups reported experiencing the Caring Adults Promise.

“This brief reminds us that a caring parent and a supportive home environment are not the only ingredients needed for raising successful, productive youth,” said Marguerite W. Kondracke, president and CEO, America’s Promise Alliance. “When our young people leave a Promise-Rich environment like their homes for a Promise-Poor environment like the streets, this has an incredibly powerful impact on them. Unfortunately those children whose families make less money are far more likely to attend unsafe schools with fewer high quality extracurricular activities. The success of our children is the job of all of us and a family’s financial status should never be a determining factor.”

The brief reported significant differences between children from high income families versus those from low-income families regarding their experience of the Five Promises. Specifically, 44 percent of young people in high-income families were Promise-Rich whereas only 19 percent of children in low-income families experienced this critical mass of developmental supports. Similarly, 86 percent of children in high-income families reported living in safe neighborhoods, compared to 52 percent of low-income families. This inequality was just as prevalent when school safety was addressed, with 80 percent of 12-to-17 year old children from high-income families reporting they attend safe schools. On the contrary, only 55 percent of their lower-income peers said their schools were safe. Income level also played a role in participation in high quality after-school activities. While only one-third of children from low-income families participated in high-quality after-school activities, nearly half of children from higher income families were enrolled. The Alliance believes the lack of safe neighborhoods, streets and schools has prevented children from low-income families from gaining access to higher quality and more affordable activities for youth outside of the classroom.

To help more of the nation’s children transition from Promise-Poor to Promise-Rich, the Alliance has launched a new 15 in 5 campaign - with the goal of improving the lives of 15 million of the nation’s most disadvantaged youth over the next five years by delivering more of the Five Promises and ultimately improving high school completion rates. To accomplish this goal, the Alliance has developed three National Action Strategies around health care access and insurance, middle-school student civic and vocational engagement and using schools as hubs for the delivery of comprehensive resources to kids.

The entire “Promise Rich vs. Promise Poor” brief, including the three tables of data on income level and Promise prevalence can be found on the America’s Promise Alliance web site at:

The Alliance’s research brief series launched in June with the first brief titled “Parenting.” All briefs are based on the Alliance’s ECEP report released in November 2006. The report revealed that youth who experience at least four of the Five Promises were twice as likely to receive A’s in school, twice as likely to avoid violence and 40 percent more likely to volunteer. The Alliance collaborated with the Search Institute, Child Trends and the Gallup Organization on ECEP.


About the America’s Promise Alliance -
America’s Promise Alliance is the nation’s leader in forging a strong and effective partnership alliance comprised of corporations, nonprofit organizations, foundations, policymakers, advocacy and faith groups committed to ensuring that children receive the fundamental resources - the Five Promises – they need to lead successful, healthy and productive lives and build a stronger society. Building on the legacy of our founder General Colin Powell, the Alliance believes the success of our children is grounded in experiencing the Five Promises - caring adults; safe place; a healthy start; an effective education; and opportunities to help others - at home, in school and in the community