Putting Kids on the Path to College | United Way of Metropolitan Dallas

Together, We’re Putting More North Texas Students on the Path to College Success

Learn more about the Dollars for College program, which seeds college savings accounts

North Texas may be known as an economic powerhouse, but our bustling economy doesn’t work the same for everyone. One challenge lies in the fact that not enough young people—especially those who are Black or Latinx—have the opportunity and access to go to college.

At United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, we recognize the importance of a strong education. Going to college opens doors that will benefit a student throughout their entire life. Education leads to financial security for an individual and their family, and it improves the odds that they’ll be able to live a long and healthy life. That’s why we’ve identified education, along with income and health, as a building block of opportunity.

However, many factors keep college out of reach for many young North Texans. Here, we take a look at the trends around college attendance and completion—and how we’re leading a movement to improve access to higher education.

College Is Out of Reach for Many

In North Texas, fewer than one in three high school graduates will finish a two- or four-year post-secondary program within six years. Lack of higher education hinders an individual’s job opportunities and income growth, which worsens existing disparities in racial income and wealth gaps.
Why aren’t more North Texas students attending and finishing college? For many, the cost of a higher education is a significant obstacle.

For these families, planning ahead and saving for college is extremely challenging, if not impossible. As a result, individual students miss out on the incredible potential of higher education—access to better jobs, a lifetime of financial security and more—while North Texas misses out on a stronger, more diverse and more advanced workforce.

With fewer than one-third of high school graduates finishing college, that means our region doesn’t have a strong pipeline of workers equipped with a bachelor’s degree or higher. Most “good jobs”—those that pay a living wage, offer a stable base of employment and are automation resilient— are simply out of reach for many people, because they don’t have the education or certification required to qualify.

In fact, 81 percent of available good jobs in North Texas require a bachelor’s degree or more, according to a 2020 report titled “Advancing Workforce Equity in Dallas and Collin Counties: A Blueprint for Action”, which was produced in partnership with PolicyLink, Burning Glass Technologies and Pathways to Work at United Way of Metropolitan Dallas.

This leads to a cycle of North Texans earning less than they could: Because their families are economically disadvantaged, they can’t afford college. And because they can’t afford college, they end up in lower-paying jobs that offer less financial security and upward mobility for both themselves and the next generation.

Together, We’re Changing Children’s Futures

Although these numbers can be discouraging, there’s also some good news: Research shows that low- to moderate-income children with even a small amount of college savings are three times more likely to attend college—and four times more likely to graduate.

This strong correlation between college savings and college attendance and completion is what led us to partner with Communities Foundation of Texas to create the Dollars for College program. Dollars for College provides an easy way for families to open a college savings account in their child’s name, which leads to higher rates of college attendance and college completion.

Individuals can seed a child’s college savings account by donating just $50. Then, students and families can earn incentive deposits and can make their own deposits over time. During the two-year program, one of these savings accounts can grow to $500, and it continues to grow during the child’s primary and secondary education, which helps set a high school graduate up for success in college.

“Dollars for College creates new access to a safe and affordable college savings plan by removing many of the barriers that have previously existed for low- and moderate-income families,” said Greg Mangum, vice president of economic mobility at United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. “Having savings dedicated for post-secondary education helps shift the focus of students and families to good-paying careers and supports the school’s goals of educational attainment, both during K-12 grades, as well as through the completion of a college-level degree or certification.”

Together with our incredible supporters, we’ve made a huge impact since the Dollars for College program began:

  • 1,410 Dollars for College accounts have been opened
  • $191,040 in deposits have been made
  • 960 students have received financial education

Join the Movement

We invite you to join our movement to improve access to education, income and health across North Texas. With just a $50 donation, you can seed a student’s college savings account and help change their future.

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ABOUT UNITED WAY OF METROPOLITAN DALLAS

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United Way of Metropolitan Dallas is a social change organization that unites the community to create opportunity and access for all North Texans to thrive, challenging the systemic barriers associated with race. Together with our committed change-seekers, we are mobilizing a movement for lasting change, to ensure all our neighbors have access to education, income and health—the building blocks of opportunity. We invite you to Live United and be part of the change right here at home.

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This article was published on: Sep 20, 2021