Skip to content

6 Key Milestones to Success

Learn About MBK

Share

The My Brother’s Keeper Alliance work is rooted in six key life milestones that research shows are especially predictive of later success, and where interventions can have the greatest impact.

Although the factors that influence success at each stage are complex and interdependent, by focusing on these milestones, doing what works and removing or avoiding roadblocks that hinder progress, we can provide young people the opportunity and the tools to get ahead.

Entering School Ready To Learn

Milestone 1: Early Education

The earliest years of a child’s life are critical for building the foundation for success in school and beyond. During these years, children’s brains develop rapidly, influenced heavily by their experiences.

Children who live in poverty face an array of environmental factors that can harm their development and life outcomes. With gaps between children from lower and higher income families beginning early in life, efforts to narrow disparities and facilitate economic mobility must start before birth and focus on the individuals who are most influential in children’s lives: parents, caregivers and teachers.

To drive real change in our community, we must seek opportunities to:

  • Close the word gap and support enriching home environments

  • Implement universal early health and developmental screenings

  • Ensure access to high-quality early care and education

  • Invest in a high-quality workforce of early childhood teachers

  • Eliminate suspensions and expulsions in early learning settings

Read more about Milestone 1

Reading at Grade Level by the End of Third Grade

Milestone 2: Reading at Grade Level

All children should be reading at grade level by the end of third grade — the time at which reading to learn, and not just learning to read, becomes essential.

Reading well at an early age is essential to later success in education, employment, and life. Students who are not reading at proficient levels by the end of third grade are more likely to struggle throughout their school years, which in turn leads to higher dropout rates and fewer students being college and career ready. Increasing proficiency rates and closing the achievement gap are among the most persistent educational challenges we face. Making significant progress for all children is more likely when families, schools, and communities work as partners to share the responsibility for all children reading on grade level by the end of third grade.

To drive real change in our community, we must seek opportunities to: 

  • Promote family-school-community partnerships to support joint book reading and in-home literacy, and 

  • Bring successful evidence-based practices to scale

Key Principles

  1. To thrive, all children must receive high-quality, evidence informed, and continuous support for active learning. To ensure that we move the needle on child outcomes and the quality of instruction in the classroom, we must invest in support for intensive and effective professional development to early educators responsible for the education of young children.

  2. Family involvement is a critical element of high-quality early care and education. Meaningful parent / family engagement in children’s early learning supports school readiness and academic success in the early grades.

  3. Libraries and community-based organizations are an important component of a community’s educational efforts to promote early literacy by assisting teachers and parents in stimulating early brain development, while enhancing education, the workforce, and local businesses by providing literacy programs for youth and their parents.

  4. Evidence-based instruction is critical for ensuring that students are properly equipped with the reading skills they need to succeed.

Read more about Milestone 2

Graduate From High School

Milestone 3: Graduate High School

Every American child should be college and career ready.

The dropout rate for all students is down, and college enrollment rates are at an all-time high, yet there remain significant gaps, where many young people leave high school without a diploma or the preparation needed to succeed in college or a career.

Research has demonstrated that schools with effective leaders, committed staff, involved parents, a supportive climate, and ambitious learning goals are successful in educating all students. Research has also demonstrated benefits from expanded learning time that enriches students’ learning; partnerships with local businesses and post-secondary partners that link school work to real-world expectations and experiences; and out of school opportunities and community-based programs that enrich learning and reduce incidences of violence and crime. Together, these practices are strengthening the pipeline from high school into college and careers.

To drive real change in our community, we must seek opportunities to: 

  • Increase Student Attendance and Reduce Dropouts – Especially Among the Most Vulnerable, such as Foster and Homeless Youth

  • Create the Conditions for High-Quality Education for All

  • Accelerate Efforts to Transform High Schools with the Lowest Graduation Rates

  • Promote the Use of Alternatives to Exclusionary Discipline Practices

  • Increase Access to and Success in Rigorous Coursework

Key Principles

  1. A data system that tracks the allocation of resources across schools can highlight disparities and opportunity gaps for students in your community.

  2. Focus intensively on the schools that produce the largest number of school dropouts and, among other actions, develop alternative pathways to graduation.

  3. The quality of education offered in public schools depends on having high expectations for students from all backgrounds. Schools must provide a rigorous curriculum, including Advanced Placement (AP) / International Baccalaureate (IB) and dual enrollment options, as well as highly effective teachers to help ensure that every child realizes his / her potential.

  4. Adoption of promising and evidence-based practices should be identified and accelerated throughout the community, including early warning systems to reduce dropouts.

  5. Creating opportunities for expanded learning time in school and quality time out of school can help engage students and accelerate socio-emotional and academic learning and health.

  6. Resources should be available to encourage positive school climates with the social, emotional, and behavioral supports to ensure success for all youth.

  7. Discriminatory discipline policies should be ended and supportive school discipline models should be implemented across the P-12 system.

Read more about Milestone 3

Complete Post-secondary Education Or Training

Milestone 4: Complete Secondary Education

All Americans should receive the education and training needed for quality jobs of today and tomorrow.

By 2020, an estimated 65 percent of jobs will require post-secondary education. It has been well-documented that higher levels of education lead to higher wages for individuals and, in turn, higher tax revenues for federal, state, and local governments. Additionally, more education leads to increased public engagement of Americans in the life of their communities, regions, and states. The economic and civic health of the nation depends on a well-educated citizenry, and ensuring that all citizens are able to participate and successfully leverage educational opportunities is critical for the nation’s future.

To drive real change in our community, we must seek opportunities to: 

  • Improve College Advising Services and Support Tools

  • Aim Higher in High School by Encouraging FAFSA Completion and Post-Secondary Applications

  • Expand Access to Early College, Dual Enrollment, Advanced Placement / International Baccalaureate Courses, and Rigorous College Prep

  • Increase Development and Adoption of Promising and Proven College Completion and Transfer Strategies

  • Support Young People To and Through College

Key Principles

  1. Cities that are globally competitive attract businesses and families when more residents pursue and successfully obtain post-secondary degrees and credentials.

  2. Successful post-secondary enrollment and completion begins much earlier with strong student aspirations, mindsets and preparation.

  3. Systems to track progress and provide early, consistent, and aligned supports on the journey through K-12 and higher education increase the odds of success, especially for vulnerable students.

  4. Connections to employers and jobs increase both the quality and relevance of post-secondary learning opportunities.

  5. Through coordination and cooperation across institutions, alignment of financial aid according to need can significantly increase access and completion.

Read more about Milestone 4

All Youth Out Of School Are Employed

Milestone 5: Employment

Anyone who wants a job should be able to get a job that allows them to support themselves and their families.

Ensuring that all young people have the tools and opportunities to enter the workforce successfully is a goal we must strive to reach. Where there are barriers to participation, we should seek to remove them. Where there are too few opportunities, we should seek to expand them to ensure that all young Americans have the opportunity to achieve their full potential.

To drive real change in our community, we must seek opportunities to: 

  • Implement Broad Growth and Opportunity Agenda

  • Increase Entry-Level Job, Mentorship, Job Training, and Apprenticeship Options

  • Help Grow and Improve Summer Jobs Initiatives

Key Principles

  1. Employers in high-demand sectors can reduce training costs by working with post-secondary education institutions to ensure their curriculum prepares students to be work-ready from day one of employment.

  2. Offering on-the-job training – including pre-apprenticeship, apprenticeship, job shadowing, and internship programs for all youth – allows workers and employers to share the burden of training costs along with the returns of working.

  3. Providing low-cost childcare and transportation benefits and services is essential to engaging low-income workers in the workforce.

  4. Communities that use data to understand future employment needs in high-demand career sectors will be better positioned to ensure post-secondary programs meet the needs that will drive economic growth.

  5. City officials should be strong advocates on behalf of underserved populations, using their influence and leverage to insist on fair and equal access to workforce development programs. They can also demand accountability for outcomes and results by pushing for performance management efforts that reward success in working with traditionally underserved communities, and either strengthen or discontinue contracts with underperforming providers.

Read more about Milestone 5

All Youth Remain Safe From Violent Crime

Milestone 6: Safe from Violence

All children should be safe from violent crime; and individuals who are confined should receive the education, training, and treatment needed to have a real second chance.

On the path to adulthood, youth may fall victim to violence or experience an interaction with the juvenile and criminal justice systems that permanently alters their trajectory for the worse. While crime and incarceration rates have generally decreased across the United States in recent years, violence continues to plague many communities and disproportionately affect communities of color. Persons of color disproportionately have contact with law enforcement, are overrepresented in correctional settings, and face disparate treatment in the juvenile justice system. Our criminal justice data needs to be improved to help us better understand the underlying issues in this realm.

To drive real change in our community, we must seek opportunities to: 

  • Reduce Violence in High-Risk Communities by Integrating Public Health Approaches

  • Reform the Juvenile and Criminal Justice Systems to Keep Youth and Young Adults on Track

  • Encourage Law Enforcement and Neighborhoods to Work Together

  • Eliminate Unnecessary Barriers to Reentry and Encourage Fair Chance Hiring Options

  • Address Possibility of Disproportionate Minority Contact

  • Improve Data

Key Principles 

  1. The trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve can be strengthened through deliberate efforts to facilitate racial reconciliation, enhance procedural justice, and reduce implicit bias.

  2. There is tremendous opportunity for policies and practices to help address the disproportionate contact of overrepresented youth with law enforcement and the juvenile and criminal justice systems. Where contact occurs, policies and practices should be implemented to reduce reliance on confinement and produce better outcomes for those who do enter the system.

  3. Successful reentry programs are critical to addressing the many needs of and challenges faced by individuals released from prison, jail, or juvenile facilities. Services provided through reentry programs support individuals in making the initial transition back to the community and facilitate the development of skills needed to reduce the likelihood of future criminal activity. Multifaceted reentry and rehabilitation programs address necessities such as housing, medical care, and emergency assistance. These programs also assist individuals in obtaining educational support services, job training, as well as mental health and substance abuse counseling through referrals to community-based service providers. Furthermore, successful reentry programs address workforce development and reduce hiring barriers / collateral consequences that place returning citizens at a disadvantage when searching for viable employment.

Read more about Milestone 6