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Congregations are working alongside communities, wrapping
around families, and pursuing restorative justice. As Christians
who understand the divine character of grace, we have to
become people of second chances. While I understand the
impulse towards zero-tolerance policies, this approach is
especially problematic for kids of color; it has a direct impact
on these kids getting involved with the prison system later in life.

There’s an example of a church here in Washington, D.C., that
has opened their doors and set up education, counseling, and
a safe space for any child that has been suspended from school.
Instead of spending a week at home, or worse, getting into even
more trouble out on the streets, this church welcomes them with
open arms. Rather than doubling down on shame and punishment,
the congregation views these suspensions as teachable moments,
asking, "What can we do for kids who we know have the strong
potential to get caught up in a system that’s going to have terrible,
life-altering consequences?"

There are more than 300,000 churches across the United States
and 40,000 high-poverty public schools. That's a ratio 6 to 1. How
amazing would it be if every church in America was proactively
involved in wrapping around the kids in these struggling schools
and advocating for polices that will ensure more of our kids get
through high school, receive a quality education, have expanded
options in life, and discover their God-given purpose?

(Nicole Baker Fulgham is president and founder of The
Expectations Project)

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