Written by Amber Abadia, Steve Chrtisman, and Gabe Cox (California State University, East Bay)

Faculty Evaluator: Nolan Higdon (California State University, East Bay)

It is clear that one major solutions to solving poverty is education. This means building access to education and better professional development of educators and administrative staff. If this aspect is developed significantly then there is no doubt society will see decreases in dropout rates and increases in those people getting out of poverty. This proposal seeks to raise funds to create a network of educators focused on developing a webpage aimed at providing professional development to educators and a digital education to those blockaded from a traditional education.

Statement Of The Problem

Poverty and education are inextricably linked. Some people living in poverty may stop going to school so they can work which perpetuates the problem by leaving them without literacy and numeracy skills. Per a National Center for Children in poverty survey in 2003, “families whose income falls below 200% of the Federal Poverty Line children tend to score below average on reading, math and general knowledge tests.” (Koball 2003). The same study finds that low levels of education are linked to non-growing local area infrastructure.  In an article by the National Education for Education Statistics in May of 2013, it found that 1.3 million students dropped out of high school in the United States. It also states “low-income students fail to graduate at five times the rate of middle-income families and six times that of higher-income youth.” (Rumberger 2013). This coupled with their finding in 2004, that 600,000 high school dropouts have a total impact on the economy of 2.3 billion dollars in tax-funded medical care over their lifetimes.

Education also has a significant role in the fight for children’s rights, both in teaching children what they can and should expect from adults, and in showing adults the benefits of respecting their children’s rights. Lack of quality education leads to a lack of upward social mobility and a perpetually high, high school dropout rate. This then has a significant economic impact on the local communities which prevent growth in the school system which causes an artificial ceiling on how good the school can do.

Education is not a privilege, it is a human right. The United Nations recognizes education has a human right because they identify it as a “powerful tool by which economically and socially marginalized adults and children to lift themselves out of poverty and participate fully as citizens” (UNESCO). . The right to education is crucial to empowering people to be able to enjoy their other rights. “The right to education provides compulsory, free primary educations for all.” (Clapham). It has been developed through what is known as the “4A’s”, approach, availability, accessibility, acceptability, and adaptability. Education must be available in a functional sense so that, in the words of the UN committee on Economic Social and Cultural rights, there must be “protection from elements, sanitation facilities for both men and women, and teaching materials.” (Clapman).  The accessibility must ensure that all schools are accessible to all. This has three dimensions: 1. non-discrimination 2. Physical accessibility 3. Economic accessibility. Education must be conducted in a way that is acceptable to children and parents. “An acceptable environment is about not only material conditions and the absence of violence, but also about enabling children to develop and learn.” (Clapham).

When one thinks of poverty, they might think of a place or living conditions that are not up to par with the rest of society. These people are usually living in these conditions because they did not receive the necessary education required to have a standard living. According to the Leaning Policy Institute, “students in high-poverty and high minority settings bear the brunt of teacher shortages…evidence shows that shortages historically have disproportionately impacted our most disadvantaged students and that those patterns persist today”. A lot of these teachers are considered “out-of-field”, which means that they are forced to teach in subjects that they are not certified in. Per a report published by the Educators Trust, “high poverty secondary schools have approximately 21.9 percent of classes taught by ‘out-of-field’ teachers, whereas low-poverty secondary schools only have 10.9 percent of classes taught by ‘out-of-field- teachers”. If these places experiencing poverty have more qualified teaching in their education systems, then education should prove to help conquer poverty over time.

Corporate media tends to give negative misrepresentations of people in poverty. Many people’s only experience of poverty is through the media, and without any coverage of the law-abiding majority of poor people, they are left with the impression that poor equals criminal. If the not-poor 4/5 of the population have a stereotyped and negative view of the poor fifth, they will tend to treat them accordingly – in job interviews, in shops, and on the street. This helps keep people poor.

Organizations Battling Poverty

There are numerous organizations working to defeat poverty such as UNICEF. UNICEF was founded in 1947 with a goal is to work towards a better world and alleviate poverty, discrimination and injustice. UNICEF works toward equality by providing access to education world-wide through funds and donations. They also employ advocacy and campaigns towards encouraging the countries to step up and address the issues themselves. They donate funds to build and rebuild infrastructure in countries. They address the human rights problem of poverty through education because they identify education as a way that children and adults can raise themselves out of poverty through making more informed and better decisions for them and those around them.

Another organization focused on global poverty is the India based Pratham. They have been around since 1995 and are originally a collaboration between UNICEF and India before branching off. They believe education is a way to defeat poverty and this work to provide children with “reading, writing and basic arithmetic skills. They have reached 50,000 children and 12 other countries have adopted their practices. They are addressing the human rights issue of poverty through education by working to build schools and underprivileged Indian children in hopes that the access to schooling and practical skills will allow them to support themselves and raise themselves out of the slums.

Similarly, the non-profit CARE which was founded in 1994 and now operates in 36 Countries Worldwide. They work to rebuild education is post-conflict states, and countries in disaster, whether it’s political or natural. They claim to do it to “help areas with a devastated adult population…to reduce instances of child labor, and to priorit[ize] gender equality in education.” They seek to address the issues of poverty and the problems that come along with it by educating the youth and the women in the countries they are involved in with skills to create a more “equitable environment where young people can exercise their skills, knowledge and leadership.” They accomplish this by focusing on girls’ education, and educating the youth on issues from health and economic development to learning vocational skills. They transition these efforts to addressing issues such as “laws, policies, gender norms and social and cultural barriers that stand in the way.”

Proposed Solution

Media can be a beneficial aspect in helping solve poverty through education by creating specified platforms dedicated to educators and students. These platforms of media can come from almost every aspect of media including television, print, radio, and practically all other forms. It would be ideal to have a media platform focused on educators who could collaborate to improve their craft while disseminating knowledge and skills to those who barred from a traditional education. We envision a webpage that offers well organized and easily digestible content from radio segments to news articles. This platform should include stories and ideas from educators all around the world. By using those types of platforms and showing the media at those specific locations, it will allow for an audience to be reached that is interested and impacted by the topics of education and its future.

We seek funds to develop a large group of current and former educators, as well as any type of media company that would like to partner, that can work to build awareness about the link between poverty and education and develop solution based content. This will ultimately be done through teacher to teacher interaction, student to teacher interaction, and digital interaction between students, educators, and interested parties. This plan could be funded by a media company looking to donate to a non-profit cause, or the US Department of Education.

If you are interested in helping our proposal become a reality please contact our faculty adviser Nolan Higdon at

Amber Abadia is a 24 years PPO Communications major at Cal State East Bay University. Abadia earned an Associated Degree in Communications and Human Development at Ohlone College.

Stephen Christman is a senior at California State University East Bay majoring in Communication Studies, specifically in the area of Media Production. Stephen hopes to be a professional in that field of media production.

Gabe Cox is a 24 year old Communications major with an emphasis on PPO at California State University, East Bay. Cox formerly competed in Speech at Debate at Las Positas College. Cox hopes to secure a career where he works in News, Radio, and Journalism, more specifically in a place like NPR or a non-profit. He hopes his work will help improve education, and people in perpetual poverty.


Biddle, R. (2011, September 1). The Great Debate: Education is the long-term solution for fighting poverty. Retrieved March 2, 2017, from

Clapham, A. (2015). Human rights: a very short introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Corporate Media IssuesEconomics

Nolan Higdon is a professor of English, Communication, and History of the US and Latin America in the San Francisco Bay Area. His academic work focuses on nationalism, propaganda, and critical media literacy education. He sits on the boards of the Media Freedom Foundation, Sacred Heart University's Media Literacy and Digital Culture Graduate Program, the Union for Democratic Communications Steering Committee, and the Northwest Alliance For Alternative Media And Education. Higdon is ta co-founder for the Global Critical Media Literacy Project. He has contributed chapters to Censored 2013-2017 as well as Stephen Lendman’s Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks World War III (2014). He has published articles on media and propaganda including “Disinfo Wars: Alex Jones War on Your Mind (2013),” “Millennial Media Revolution (2014),” and “Justice For Sale (2015).” He has been a guest on national radio and television programs.
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