Think of a person living in poverty. They were born into the US, with all the rights and privileges of any other person. Surely, they have the same opportunities, right?
But, they're born into a family that's poor. Maybe they have a single mother raising them. Maybe she's working two jobs, or three, because that's what it takes to make it at minimum wages. So, the new child spends formative years being watched by whoever is available, because there's no extra money for formal day care. Who is teaching this child their ABCs? Who is teaching them to read before they go to school? There's no preschool, because funding for those types of programs doesn't allow every child in the neighborhood to attend, and Mom was at work the day she could apply. There's no socialization, either, because kids in this poor neighborhood aren't allowed to play outside. It's not safe.
There's also no grocery store in walking distance, and no money for a car, or taking the bus when it's not absolutely necessary. The child isn't fed fresh fruits and vegetables as often as they should be, and eats whatever is available, and affordable: processed foods, filled with sugar, salt and additives. Bring on the health issues associated with this type of diet.
So, the kid is finally old enough to go to school. Have you been to an elementary school in a poor neighborhood? They're old, in need of repair, and understaffed. There are way too many kids in each class for the teacher to notice that this child doesn't know their ABCs yet, and can't read. Maybe the kid is dyslexic, or autistic, but that is never diagnosed. The child is simply passed along, or failed, and forced to repeat the grade, until they're finally graduated, or drop out. Poor neighborhoods have a higher dropout rate than average in every state.
Our kid has now dropped out of high school, because their dyslexia has gone undiagnosed. They also can't read very well. They have, mercifully, avoided being killed, joining a gang, or falling prey to a drug addition. All of those things are statistically higher in teens in poor neighborhoods than the national average, but our kid has a Mom who managed to keep them on the straight and narrow.
Where does a 16 year old without the ability to read well, and no high school education, go?
I'm running out of space to write, but I could keep going all day, because I used to work in an outreach program in this neighborhood. Poverty is a snowball, rolling downhill.