In some public schools we see a future full of promise. Amazing teachers. Challenging classes. High graduation rates. 80% of students from these schools will earn a college diploma.

But for students growing up in poverty, public education looks a whole lot different. Low expectations. High dropout rates. Only half graduate from high school, and less than 10% go on to graduate from college.

It’s a tale of two public education systems, separate and unequal, where some students thrive while others languish in a state of academic neglect. Education inequality keeps students from achieving their dreams and fulfilling their God given potential. We have to do better than this.

There are more than 300,000 places of worship across America compared with roughly 50,000 high-poverty public schools, struggling to meet student needs — a ratio of 6 to 1.

Imagine what might be possible if just a handful of people in each of these congregations took it on themselves to ensure the students in these schools had faithful advocates looking out for their best interests.

We believe that the academic achievement gap in U.S. public education can be closed in our lifetimes, but only if people of faith open their hearts, roll up their sleeves, and get to work on behalf of students.