From Publishers Weekly
On a whim one afternoon in 1987, Brown, a middle-class woman living in the poor and crime-ridden community of East Oakland, Calif., walked into her classroom of 23 first graders and promised that if they finished high school, she'd send them all to college. Of that first group of "her babies," as Brown calls them (her own children were already grown up), 19 went on to college. Today, the Oral Lee Brown Foundation sends 20 teenagers from this same community to college every four years. Brown's experience with the first group was difficult, but she only briefly explains how it affected her personally, preferring to focus on the kids (although her constant reminders that she's doing so do become grating). She raised money (donating her own income as a base) and acted as a second family to these children, taking them on college tours; buying them books and groceries; and, occasionally, putting them up in her own house. Written with San Jose Mercury News reporter Millner, the book is didactic in its approach, yet should inspire parents and teachers, who will especially appreciate the "tip sheet for college acceptance" at book's end.
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In 1987, haunted by a little girl begging for food in her East Oakland neighborhood, Brown impulsively adopted a first-grade class at a local elementary school. Having promised to finance a college education for each of the 23 students, on a salary of only $45,000 a year, Brown pledged to save $10,000 each year. The pledge strained her marriage and committed her to working several jobs. But 12 years later, using her personal investment and funds raised through the Oral Lee Brown Foundation, she made good on her promise--sending 19 of the 23 students to college. In this astonishing account, Brown recalls how she managed to keep in touch with the students, who were from unstable families and a disadvantaged neighborhood, developing strong personal ties with each of her "babies" and keeping them on track for college. Brown has extended her promise to a new crop of students. An inspirational look at the determination of one woman to make a difference in her community and in the lives of disadvantaged children. Vanessa Bush
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