Education is the cornerstone of individual and community success. But with more than 1.2 million children dropping out each year, America faces an education crisis. The cost? More than $312 billion in lost wages, taxes and productivity over their lifetimes.1These trends are reversible, but only when communities and public, private and nonprofit sectors work together.
In 2008, United Way launched a 10-year initiative to cut by half the number of young people who drop out of high school by 2018. It’s an ambitious goal, but by utilizing our core strengths — a national network, committed partners and public engagement capacity — we can achieve it.
We can’t focus on high school alone. High school dropouts are 12 years in the making, usually starting early childhood education behind schedule. United Way's model focuses on supportive communities, effective schools and strong families — strategies and approaches rooted in research. Tackling the education challenge requires reframing education on a birth to 21 continuum.
The Education Research Overview (PDF) gives communities and United Way partners a more detailed picture of the research grounding United Way’s cradle-to-career education continuum. It’s organized around United Way’s five education focus areas, dedicating one section to each. Each section frames the case for action (rooted in the latest research), offers strategies that experts suggest work, and gives examples of promising practices underway and innovative ideas from United Ways.
To reach our goal, we need your help. The strategies proven to work are those that connect communities to their schools: parent involvement; literacy volunteers in the classroom; mentors for disadvantaged students; business leaders engaged in early childhood advocacy. Volunteer to help.
It's a credo. A mission. A goal. A constant reminder that when we reach out a hand to one, we influence the condition of all. We build the strength of our neighborhoods. We bolster the health of our communities. And we change the lives of those who walk by us every day.