The Claretian Initiative’s programs are designed by Claretians and other community leaders to meet the specific needs of the people they serve. Because they live in the community as neighbors, the Claretians have a unique insight into the issues impacting each neighborhood’s children, teens, adults, and elders. But the Claretians don’t stop there.


They combine their unique, first-hand knowledge with thorough, current research on issues such as education, mentoring, and violence prevention to make sure their community development programs follow the best practices recommended by researchers and thought leaders.


Learn more about the areas tCI’s programs address with our issue white papers.

Program Areas of tCI

In 2011, 46.2 million people—15% of the American population—were living in poverty. As startling as this rate is, even more concerning is the 22% of children under the age of 18 living below the poverty line, with children under five being most at-risk. Though it is certainly not the only factor, lack of quality education is one of the most obvious and critical contributors to poverty for many families. When young people do not have access to safe and quality academic or vocational schooling, not only will they be more likely to live in poverty, but they are also more likely to engage in criminal behavior and lack opportunities to contribute to the positive growth of their communities.


Access to and participation in high-quality education is the most effective and empowering way to diminish widespread poverty. As young people gain knowledge, critical thinking skills, and career-specific qualifications in school, their future employability and wages increase. Young people making living wages in a secure job are more likely to be able to support their families, ensuring that their children will have greater access to sustained, high-quality academic or vocational education themselves.


In addition to having diminished opportunity for gainful employment, a young person without a quality education is much more likely to engage in criminal behavior. In the U.S., most criminals are undereducated, unemployed, and living below the poverty level when they enter the criminal justice system. In fact, 65% of inmates in the U.S. have not earned a high school diploma, and a vast majority of those are illiterate or functionally illiterate—almost 3 times higher than national statistics for the general population.


A good education prevents crime in other ways as well. Educated young people often have more patience and a greater aversion to taking risks, making them less likely to engage in criminal behavior. Additionally, young people who stay in school spend less time on the streets associating with peers involved in crime. Spending more time around school-oriented peers in positive, supervised environments—like classrooms and after-school programs—greatly decreases the likelihood that a young person will commit a crime.


But access to a good education isn’t just about poverty and crime prevention; it’s about fostering an environment where young people can grow into productive thinkers, problem-solvers, and community members. Without education, many young people miss out on the opportunity to contribute to the social, political, technological, and economic growth of their communities. Education, in this way, isn’t just a means to an end, but rather an end in itself as it empowers and expands a young person’s choices and opportunities.


The need for quality education doesn’t begin when young people are in middle school—an age when they are most likely to become involved in criminal activities. Instead, it begins when children are very young. Early childhood education and intervention has the greatest impact on economic success, adult crime rates, and good personal and community health. Local religious and community leaders like the Claretians are uniquely positioned to work in partnership with local schools and parents to ensure that young people have sustained access to the kind of education that will allow them to become successful, informed, and productive adults.

Read more about tCI’s influence through EDUCATION programs on our What’s New page.