Our region is thriving with a new company announcing its relocation here almost every week. North Texas is home to 22 Fortune 500 companies, 25 billionaires, and tons of millionaires. But, we also have some of the highest rates of poverty in the country. It’s a tale of two worlds in our community – and the divide is growing.
The Communities Foundation released a brilliant new report – conducted by The Center for Public Policy Priorities – that illustrates “where a person lives influences their access to education, jobs and community.” To help individuals reach self-sufficiency and their full potential, we must tackle complex social problems, in addition to tackling systemic challenges that have led to vast inequities in opportunities and mobility based on race and ethnicity in Dallas County.
With 43% of residents living with income less than two times the federal poverty level, programs must provide clients with wrap around services to stay focused and successful in their programs – like child care, rental assistance, food, and transportation.
The Pathways to Work initiative, led by United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, is one such program that equips individuals with post-secondary skills training and credentials that lead to living wage jobs. The program is a partnership between employers, funders and training providers and is making a measurable difference in the lives of North Texans. Take Reon Thomas’ story for example. He was working 60 to 70 hours a week in a dead-end, low paying job. While he wanted to increase his earning potential, he did not have the time or resources to invest in the education he needed to obtain a better paying job. Pathways to Work provided Reon with training, mentoring, case management and work experience all in a supportive environment. He is now a patient care technician, which has provided more income for his family and opportunities for career advancement.
After participating in the Pathways to Work program, Reon Thomas secured a job as a patient care technician.
Reon is one of nearly 600 North Texans who have participated in the Pathways to Work initiative, resulting in nearly 500 certifications or degrees earned, and more than 300 job placements. Programs like Pathways to Work demonstrate United Way’s commitment to treating 360 degrees of need in our community and ensuring all North Texans have the opportunity to thrive.