American Girl: A Portrait of Poverty

By Sally Lee and Kate Lawler

Meet Savanna, whose parents struggle to pay their bills, put food on the table, and keep their house warm. As this intimate, eye-opening portrait shows, many families in rural America live in extreme poverty -- and a good education may be the only hope for their children.

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Savanna Jacome
David Burnett

Savanna's Home

Raising a family in the Appalachian Mountains of southeast Kentucky isn't easy. Nearly one in four children in the state live in poverty; in Jackson County, where Savanna Jacome lives, almost 37 percent of kids are poor, 38 percent of adults don't have a high school diploma, and the unemployment rate is the third highest in Kentucky. "The key to breaking the cycle of poverty is education," says Mark Shriver, senior vice president of U.S. programs for Save the Children. "If a child is not reading at grade level by third grade, that child is going to have academic problems all the way through school." Save the Children runs 33 innovative early-language and literacy programs in Kentucky schools -- and 168 in rural communities across the United States -- that are bringing real hope to families like Savanna's, who dream of a better future for their kids.

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