10/17/2012 02:50 EDT | Updated 12/17/2012 05:12 EST

Let's Lead the Way on Education and Poverty Eradication

Today, on the UN's International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, I am reminded of how education was the key to eradication of poverty in my own life. As the greatest city in the world, we in Calgary have such a wonderful opportunity to model what it looks like when a city does whatever it takes to maximize the educational opportunities for its children.

Education is an equalizer, putting every child on a level playing field. Yet every year in Calgary we have 3,000 students who do not complete high school. We have the best school system in the world but for a variety of reasons we have one of the highest drop-out rates in the country.

Sometimes it's because students have opportunities to get a job and earn what seems at the time like a great salary. The contributing factors are complex but the reality is that every child who does not complete high school will cost us $15,850 annually for their lifetime in earning loss, social assistance, health care, crime, and tax revenue loss.

More importantly, we will not benefit from the potential of this child to make the kind of contribution to society that they are capable of making.

Thanks to the generous support and involvement of our community, the well-being of children and youth is a priority at United Way of Calgary and Area. I have always believed in the old saying, "It takes a whole village to raise a child." The success of our children is too complex for any one person or group to do it alone.

Today I ask you to think about how together we can ensure that all children have access to the services and supports they need to succeed.

Interested in social issues in Calgary? Join the conversation at Calgary Social Voice, a blog hosted by United Way.

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