What's it really cost to invest in young lives?
HCZ's President and CEO, Geoffrey Canada, spoke at a recent meeting of the Council on Foundations on his desire to scale up what his organization does and implement it in other cities. For a cost of $3,500 per child, the programs provides traditional and after-school education, along with instruction in a host of life skills. Commenting on what he calls the "preposterous" idea that the dollar figure is expensive, he told the audience at the Council on Foundations meeting, that
I have never heard a judge... convicting a teenager in the courtroom, say, 'You know, kid, I really want to lock you up for the next twelve years for the crime you committed, but it costs $16,000 per year to keep a guy in prison...I just can't make the numbers make sense.'
Well if you put it that way.
In the context of innovation and problem solving, authors Alex Steffen and Sarah Rich also talk about why Canada has been so successful, which always interest me. The emphasis and links below are mine.
When compared in this way, our reactive 'problem-solving' systems appear almost nonsensical. Why, indeed, do we sink far more funding into retroactive punishment than into setting a foundation for a child's success? But it's one thing to demonstrate that a holistic and preventative approach makes economic sense, and quite another to actually change the approach... Transformative innovation doesn't come easy. Innovators need not only to be persuasive and patient, they need to weather the discouraging words of doubters, to do much with little when skeptics won't lend a hand, and to hold a clear vision of what the solved problem will look like. Anyone who has seen a solution from miles away and forged a path to get there knows this. Geoffrey Canada knows this.
Transformation works by changing the character of the problem, and sometimes, by wrecking the problem solver's heart. As for whether reason plays a role in the change, one could just as easily say - and quite justifiably, if the science is to be believed - no feeling, no thought.