The Inland Empire is facing a crisis in education. 22% of students will not complete high school. Only 25% of high school graduates will enroll in college. That is less than half the national average. Our youth deserve better. We need your help to provide them with a better future.
Students in the IE need guidance from adult role models to move on to college and meaningful careers. But with only 20% of IE residents possessing a college degree, most parents lack the knowledge to help their children navigate the college application process or explain the impact of not continuing their education. Instead, intelligent and hard-working students languish in low-paying jobs with little prospect for growth or, like 16.1%, remain in suspended animation: unemployed and out of school.
Inland Empire United Way’s Launch Point program helps high school students in Pomona United School District realize the options that exist for them and prepares them for life after high school. With volunteer and donor support from community members, educators, and local companies, Launch Point has seen a 21% increase in knowledge of career pathways for over 100 students during the 2017-2018 academic year. Each of these participants received coaching from mentors and instruction from volunteers committed to helping them identify their unique talents. Every workshop and interaction with knowledgeable adults increases the chances that a student will break the cycle of poverty and become the first in their family to graduate college.
Volunteers play a crucial role in this process, often finding ways to encourage students to think differently about themselves. During a mock interview session at Garey High School in Pomona, volunteer Melissa Perez took the opportunity to provide advice to a student struggling with confidence. “His body language spoke volumes. I noticed that his shoulders slumped in, his voice dropped to a whisper, and his hands fidgeted with the papers in front of him.” Melissa gently steered the conversation and helped the young man recognize his personal strengths, changing his entire outlook in a matter of moments.
Donors and volunteers like Melissa allow Launch Point to serve hundreds of students each year. As the program continues to grow, IEUW plans to expand the Launch Point program to serve several more schools in Pomona United School District and the Desert Communities. Inland Empire United Way’s Women United affinity group hopes to be able to provide additional support to motivate young women with professional development, interview skills, and networking etiquette.
When our youth succeed, we begin to break the cycle of poverty in the Inland Empire. This year, through IEUW’s Launch Point program, more than 120 students were given the confidence and resources they need to understand and prepare for college and/or a living-wage career. You and your company can help support students on their road to college and positively impact the workforce of tomorrow.