By JALEN ROSE / Contributing Writer
Published: July 15, 2014 Updated: 5:30 p.m. in the Orange County Register
Many young people in America today face a harsh reality. Their fate in life is determined by their ZIP code. For an overwhelming number of African Americans and other minorities, having the wrong ZIP code keeps you from a high school diploma, a college degree, and a future that offers you opportunities that match your talents.
That’s wrong. And it’s entirely avoidable.
We are not assigned to certain grocery stores or restaurants based on our ZIP codes, which is why it makes no sense that between K-12, children are required to attend a school solely based on where they live.
The fact of the matter is that the high school graduation rate for African American males is just 52 percent – 26 percentage points below the national average of their white counterparts. In other words, more than half of all African American children in America will never have the basic skills to compete in the 21st century workforce. Odds are many of those children will turn to crime, violence or drugs, causing problems for every single American who pays taxes or simply seeks to live in a society that allows people to realize their full potential.
There is an obvious solution at hand to deal with this chronic crisis – educational choice.
One of my favorite events of the year is the ESPY Awards. It is a fantastic opportunity for sports stars, celebrities and fans to join forces and celebrate the athletic achievements of the past year – And this year was no exception!
I was especially excited for this year’s event as I had the opportunity to co-host “Champions for Choice in Education” with Jalen Rose and Kevin P. Chavous. The event allowed us to educate fellow celebrities and athletes about the importance of educational choice.
An estimated 300 people, including some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment, came out to the WP-24 Restaurant at the Ritz Carlton for the Champions for Choice in Education event. I was so grateful to see so many friends, athletes, stars and education advocates all in one room. You can see some of the pictures from the event on AFC's Facebook page.
What a night! Together with more than 300 supporters we hosted our second annual Champions for Choice pre-ESPYS event. Hosted by Lisa Leslie and Jalen Rose, the event was a huge success. We were able to share the importance of providing parents with educational options so that every child may attend the very best schools. Here's a highlight video from the evening.
Last night in Los Angeles, the American Federation for Children partnered with the Professional Sports Wives Association and Jalen Rose, retired NBA star and founder of the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, to host an event for current and former athletes and their families on the importance of education reform.
AFC Senior Advisor Kevin P. Chavous spoke to a crowd of about 80 people on the impact that just one person can have on their community, and specifically in the life of an underprivileged child. The event, “Giving Kids Hope: Addressing the Education Crisis in Our Communities,” was held in downtown Los Angeles in conjunction with the ESPY Awards, which air tonight at 9 p.m. EST on ESPN.
Along with remarks by Kevin P. Chavous, Rose spoke to the crowd and challenged them to make a difference in the lives of their communities, specifically through education reform. As a national spokesperson for the fight to give children from low-income families access to quality educational options, as well as the founder of a charter school, Rose explained the impact his work has had on thousands of children in the Detroit area.
Champions for Choice in Education are committed to ensuring that every child - no matter their zip code, no matter the parent's income, and no matter the color of their skin - has access to an excellent education.