According to the Children’s Defense Fund, more than 400,000 children are registered in the foster care system in the United States, and less than one in four are adopted each year. 26,000 of these young people age out of the foster care system every year while still in high school. With instability in their home lives and many challenges to staying on track towards high school graduation, many students end up dropping out.
Singer Anthony Hamilton could have been one of these young people. Growing up in North Carolina, he was adopted as a teenager. At an early age, he knew he wanted to be a singer. He began singing in church and then joined his middle and high school choirs. Knowing that poor grades, disruptive behavior and truancy would disqualify him from participating in the award-winning choir group, Hamilton found the focus and drive he needed to graduate from high school.
Now as a Grammy-award winner, with almost 20 million albums sold worldwide, Hamilton serves as the national spokesperson for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). CASA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness about the growing number of African-American children in the foster care system and recruiting volunteers to advocate on their behalf.
“Coming from similar backgrounds, I can relate to these kids,” Hamilton explained. “I knew I needed to stay in school if I wanted to accomplish anything in life.”
As a father of five children, including twin 1-year-old boys, education (and specifically arts education) is extremely important to the soul singer. “There are some kids who might not understand trigonometry but are really talented in music, dance or drama,” Hamilton told NewsHour Extra while on a stop in his 19-city promo tour for his new album Back to Love, out Tuesday.
Hamilton prides himself on making simple “good music” and attributes much of his success to traits he learned in school. “Your diploma is your first resume,” Hamilton said. “It shows people you know how to follow through with a task and can be held accountable.”
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