College and Career Readiness Benefits All North Texas
Advancing Our Goals for North Texas
That’s why as part of our Aspire United 2030 goals, we’re working to increase by 20% the number of young adults in North Texas who earn a living wage. This type of progress won’t only benefit individuals; it will have an enormous impact on our region as a whole, adding nearly $800 million in wages to the local economy every year.
For many North Texas students, these challenges begin well before high school. According to a study from the American Educational Research Foundation, students who are both not reading proficiently by third grade and living in poverty are 13 times less likely to graduate from high school on time compared to their proficient, more affluent peers.
We need programs and initiatives that give young students a strong start in school, better prepare graduates to earn a living wage and help to build a more diverse workforce.
At United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, we create, lead and invest in programs that give students strong pathways to financial security, while also enabling young adults to get and keep better jobs.
Understandably, most K-12 students don’t intuitively know what they want to do with the rest of their lives. At such a young age, they need exposure and access to the relevant skills, experience and connections that will equip them for a living wage job with career advancement—helping to ensure long-term financial stability and economic mobility.
Our programs and investments take a holistic approach that helps students prepare academically, develop social and emotional skills to ensure well-being, and connect with mentors and resources to persist and graduate ready for the professional workplace.
Many of our programs and partnerships directly impact college and career readiness, including:
- Our partnership with AT&T to address the digital divide: In early 2022, we teamed up with AT&T to provide families in Southern Dallas neighborhoods with free laptops, digital literacy training and technology support. The goal of the program is to encourage students to engage in online learning and set them up for success in today’s digital school and job environments.
- Dollars for College: This partnership with Communities Foundation of Texas provides easy, low-cost college savings accounts for low-income North Texans, increasing the odds of students attending and completing college.
- Once Upon a Month™: This program delivers age-appropriate children’s books to North Texas children every month to encourage language development and spark a love of reading. (It’s never too early to prepare a child for college or a career; in fact, researchers have found that children reading on grade level by the end of third grade are five times more likely to be college or career ready than their peers who aren’t reading proficiently.)
- Start Smart Texas: This free text service gives busy parents the tools they need to be confident first teachers for their children, including information on child development, social-emotional learning and other skills that help them succeed in preschool, kindergarten and early grades.
We also work with several community partners to achieve our goals, including:
- Big Thought, which provides programs that foster creativity in young people from marginalized communities and prepare them for success in education, work and life.
- Cornerstone Crossroads Academy, a second-chance high school located in South Dallas that delivers academic support, vocational preparation, and mentorship to at-risk students.
- Education is Freedom, which provides college, career and life-readiness programs to help develop a skilled and educated workforce in North Texas.
- Education Opens Doors, a turnkey program that gives teachers the content, training and technology they need to help middle school students navigate and set post-graduation goals.
- ScholarShot, a college completion program that helps college students earn vocational, associate or undergraduate degrees through academic and financial support, mentorship and more.
- Step Up, a program that matches girls with mentors to prepare them for graduation and empower them to graduate on time.
- Uplift Education, whose Road to College program helps prepare students for life after high school and supports them through college and into a career.
- Young Women’s Preparatory Network, an initiative that supports college-preparatory, public education for girls, with a goal of giving young women the academic and leadership skills to succeed in college and in life.