United Way works to end America’s education crisis
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.1 These trends are reversible, but only when communities and public, private and nonprofit sectors work together.
Our goal at United Way of Hood County is to work with local school districts, employers, partner programs, and other community stakeholders, to foster increased opportunity for both youth and adults in the arena of education. Currently, only 25% of Hood County residents have a bachelors degree or higher. One priority need identified in the 2019 UWHC Community Needs Assessment was "the ability to earn a livable wage". Community supports to enable successful early childhood and K-12 school education is vital. In addition, enhancing programs enabling adults to continue interrupted education is equally important.
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. What does this mean for United Way of Hood County?
We partner with programs to provide stability to FAMILIES:
The Hood County Substance Abuse Council focuses on youth substance misuse prevention via education, facilitation of parenting classes, activities fostering connection, youth leadership, and other supports that decrease the likelihood of youth engaging in risky behaviors. These efforts, starting as early as middle school, help to keep youth engaged in positive activities, providing skills necessary for higher learning and ultimately gainful employment.
The Hood County Children's Charity Fund, Mission Granbury, churches and others provide "backpack lunches", school snack pantries and other programs that kids who would otherwise be distracted from learning by hungry stomachs are able to focus and be productive learners in the classroom.
Operation School Supplies provides school supplies for those in need. Students are able to arrive the first day of school ready to learn, with the tools that they need to do so.
UWHC communicates regularly with school social workers and counselors, assisting with needs; aligning them with community resources such as mental health/ counseling supports, food pantries, substance abuse recovery programs and many others.
For adults whose education has been interrupted, Forward Training Center offers incredible opportunities. English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, computer training, Jobs For Life courses, interview skills, and even a mentorship program all facilitate completion of education and mastery of skills essential for stable, gainful employment. Most students graduating from the program find immediate employment, setting them up for a much brighter future.
How You Can Help
To continue to make a difference in education in Hood County, 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 and education & training programs for adults. Volunteer to help.
1Figure according to Communities in Schools, one of America’s leading drop-out prevention partnerships.