School and community working together against gender stereotyping The children of Lawrence, Massachusetts in the USA are in an education crisis. Only 41 percent finish high school and teenage girls are statistically more likely to get pregnant than to finish their secondary education. Esperanza Academy is a new, church-initiated school that aims to reverse this catastrophe. It recruits by lottery so any poor girl can apply and it requires families to be directly engaged in service to the school and the girls’ experiences there. The three meals that the girls eat during their 11-hour day are all prepared by parent volunteers. Head of School Laurie Bottiger believes that for women to be successful they need competence, confidence and connectedness and her promise to the girls is that they will go on from Esperanza, not just to high school, but to college. The community supports her and her school. ‘Let’s break the cycle of drop-out and deprivation’, says teacher and community member Angeline Garcia. ‘We can do it here. Let’s do it right.’

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