In my Community Partnerships role at GSK, I'm privileged to be part of many wonderful, impactful activities. And there's one in particular that I'd like to tell you about, as it hits very close to home.
About a year ago, a number of Durham, NC community leaders representing business, government and education gathered to launch the East Durham Children's Initiative, a program funded in part by GSK, to help keep disadvantaged kids in our community from falling through the cracks of the education system. The positive impact of this program can't come to our community too soon.
East Durham is a one-square mile area that is home for a population largely composed of underprivileged African American and Hispanic families. In many of this area's elementary, middle and high schools, reading and math scores fall well below state averages.
Attendance, grades and earned credits are also low. For too many students, graduation day never comes. Even worse, some later lack the means to earn wages needed to sustain themselves or their families. Obviously, Durham is no exception. This is a situation that repeats itself in every major city in the U.S.
While we've supported improving public schools for the past 20 years, the East Durham Children's Initiative is a chance to do something--via a very holistic approach--about a situation in our own backyard.
The Initiative is modeled after the Harlem Children's Zone, a successful program that captured the attention of then-presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2007. This near-legendary program serves 8,000 children and 6,000 adults with pre-school programs, parenting workshops, health management initiatives and high-quality public charter schools.
Here at home, the East Durham Children's Initiative is beginning to have the same kind of impact. For example, its "Parent U" program is giving parents of newborns the skills to enhance infant care, health, safety and development. A special tutoring program held twice yearly helps 50 children in grades K through 5 reach grade level. In addition, the "Motheread" program helps parents improve their literacy skills so they can do the same for their children. These and even more activities residing under the EDCI banner provide a range of services that span our children's needs, from cradle to career.
While many of us at GSK are aware of what we're doing to serve the needs of our patients, it's easy to lose sight of the other great things we are doing to build our local communities.
In my opinion, it's vital to do things that will help build and sustain a quality work force - which can then carry on the critical job of helping patients through a variety of health related careers. The two go hand-in-hand. And what better place to start than in our own communities?