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PODCAST: Fighting the preschool-to-prison pipeline

Ishmael Pruitt co-founded Project Optimism "to stimulate the ambition of our next generation of leaders" and to help students see the value of education.

PODCAST: Fighting the preschool-to-prison pipeline

Tens of thousands of preschoolers are expelled or suspended every year, according to a report from the Equal Justice Society. On average, 250 preschoolers are expelled or suspended every school day, with a disproportionate number of those students being Black.

The higher rates of excessive discipline for Black children can lead to a number of issues. Even if they are not suspended, children recognize when they are not seen as “good enough” and often react negatively, leading to higher dropout rates and even incarceration — essentially creating a preschool-to-prison pipeline.

Ishmael Pruitt is hoping to change the trajectory for young students who might find themselves in that pipeline. His struggles in college and his years working as a professional in higher education taught him the solution to social change is education and student empowerment.


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"My life's mission is to stimulate the ambition of our next generation of leaders," said Pruitt, adding that "when students are able to see themselves beyond their inherited circumstances, their understanding of education is shifted from a destination to a tool that will create better days for themselves, their families and their communities."

This belief led him to co-found Project Optimism. This nonprofit organization, for which Pruitt serves as CEO, works directly with schools to ensure students see the value of education and are not left behind.

Follow Ishmael Pruitt on Instagram here.

Learn more about Project Optimism here.

Follow the Jackie Rae Show on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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