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High School Diploma and Poverty Facts

How Teens Can Reach the Middle Class in 3 Steps

Growing up low-income doesn't mean you can't rise up. As Business Insider suggests, reaching the middle class has a lot to do with what you do as a teenager.

Poverty rates are soaring in the U.S. 

Between 2000 and 2011, the number of American residents living under the poverty line jumped by nearly 30%, according to a recent report by the Brookings Institute.

Many of the policies geared toward eradicating poverty have centered on providing greater financial and educational resources for poor children and teens. 


RELATED: What It Takes to Make It in NYC in Your 20s

In a frank blog post, Ron Haskins, co-director of the Brookings Center on Children and Families and Budgeting for National Priorities Project, explains exactly what it takes for poor teens to make it to the middle class: 

"Let politicians, schoolteachers and administrators, community leaders, ministers and parents drill into children the message that in a free society, they enter adulthood with three major responsibilities: at least finish high school, get a full-time job, and wait until age 21 to get married and have children."

Haskins has the facts to back himself up here. 

Of the American adults who followed these three rules, only 2% wound up in poverty and nearly 75% made it to the middle class ($55,000+), according to Brookings.

Of course, there's more involved in raising successful young adults than giving them a check list and sending them on their way. We need the people and policies in place to steer them in the direction of the kinds of choices that will lead them into the middle class, too. 

—Mandi Woodruff

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