Brownsville, Brooklyn is a neighborhood so crime-ridden that it once held the title of “Murder Capital of New York City.” It’s a neighborhood so dangerous that SpotCrime.com has recorded four reported shootings in the past month and a half alone. A 2015 community health profile ranked Brownsville no. 1 for most non-fatal assault hospitalizations in the entire city. And because high crime rates and poor socioeconomic conditions often go in hand and hand, Brownsville is also the most impoverished neighborhood in Brooklyn — with 37% of resident living below the Federal Poverty Level.
With eye-popping stats like these, it’s clear that the odds are pretty much stacked against Brownsville’s children. While over 50% of adults have graduated high school, only 18% of residents are college graduates. The neighborhood’s incarceration rates are the second-highest in the city and 40% of students miss 20 or more days of school. But the local middle schoolers have a secret weapon: Dr. Nadia Lopez, principal of Mott Hall Bridges Academy.
Lopez is a revolutionary thinker and a bold dreamer. She empowers kids by believing in them — giving Brownsville’s forgotten kids a path to escape a decades-long pattern of crime and poverty.
“I opened a school to close a prison,” she says.