Published Online: February 11, 1998

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Beating the Odds--With Help and Hope

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Seven years ago the documentary photographer Stephen Shames captured in Outside the Dream: Child Poverty in America a world beset by neglect and despair. It was a book that, in his words, "documents the problems but sheds little light on solutions." Mr. Shames' latest collection of photos offers a powerful testament to how and why some disadvantaged families in America manage to stay together and succeed despite overwhelming odds. Pursuing the Dream: What Helps Children and Their Families Succeed is the product of a three-year partnership between Mr. Shames and the Chicago-based Family Resource Coalition, during which time the photographer traveled throughout the country, visiting neighborhood programs in culturally diverse communities: family-service projects, extended school programs, and performing arts centers, to name a few. In 15 states--from Maine to Hawaii--including the District of Columbia, Mr. Shames recorded both the images and the words of families that have achieved financial and emotional stability with the help of community-based programs.

The book, published by Aperture, includes a preface by Chicago Bulls basketball star Michael Jordan and an introductory essay by Time magazine columnist Roger Rosenblatt. More successfully than most tomes on the nation's socioeconomic problems, Pursuing the Dream makes clear the challenges, shows what works in overcoming them, and tells why.

--Ihsan K. Taylor

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