An exquisite diamond doesn’t just magically appear on a shelf.  It undergoes an extensive process that involves digging, cutting, and polishing inside environments of extreme pressure and heat.  Unfortunately, many urban girls are growing up in the toughest situations – community violence, poverty, and incarcerated parents to name a few – that make doing five homework problems and reading one chapter at night seem like monumental tasks.  This unique set of sociological challenges must be critically addressed before they become barriers to learning.