Marriage can fight poverty—but how do you promote it?

Adapted from an article published in The Christian Science Monitor, June 1, 2017.

At the Maclellan Shelter for Families, Gena Roberts Ellis stands in front of about two dozen residents, blending humor with what she views as an urgent mission: helping these families stay intact.

For twenty years the organization Ellis works for, First Things First, has been trying to help lower divorce rates and raise marriage rates in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which has higher-than-average poverty. Staff lead dozens of local workshops that range from teaching high-school girls about healthy relationships, to couples counseling at churches, to classes in jails, for fathers in trouble for missing child-support payments.

The effort is rooted in research suggesting that, despite diverging opinions on the value of marriage in modern society, kids who grow up with married parents are more likely to go to college and far less likely to end up poor.

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