Pathways

our goal

To support students in their transition from high school to college, career, and beyond. and ensure that Black and Latino students and students experiencing poverty can access at every stage the skills development, support, and relationships necessary to thrive in education and the workforce.

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A physics lab at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, North Carolina.

At a glance

  • Many students lack access to the tools and support they need to make it to college, earn a degree, and gain the professional skills and social capital that are crucial to succeeding in a career.
  • Black and Latino students and students experiencing poverty lose momentum in disproportionately large numbers during key transition periods between high school, college, and employment.
  • The racial opportunity gap compounds the effects of an already inequitable labor market, where, for example, Black and Latino bachelor’s degree holders earn less on average than their white counterparts with the same degree.
  • We work to ensure that Black and Latino students and students experiencing poverty are supported at every stage of their education-to-career pathway and have access to opportunities for economic mobility.
OUR STRATEGY

Our strategy

We aim to ensure that Black and Latino students and students experiencing poverty receive support at every stage of their education-to-career pathway. This means ensuring access not only to postsecondary education—resulting in a college degree—but also to tools, resources, support, and relationships that can help them discover a path, stay on it, and ultimately thrive in their adult life.

Students in a veterinary technology class at LaGuardia Community College in Queens, New York.
Students in a veterinary technology class at LaGuardia Community College in Queens, New York.
AREAS OF FOCUS

Areas of focus

We focus on two main priorities in our work.

Interventions such as mentoring, advising, career-connected learning, and early credential attainment have shown real promise in improving educational and career outcomes for Black and Latino students and students experiencing poverty. We support efforts to develop and implement effective strategies—such as integrated advising for high school students and networks that build social capital—so students can forge relationships that help them access, enroll in, transition into, and gain early momentum in their chosen postsecondary pathway.

We also fund partners that are working to shift high school coursework to better align with postsecondary programs that target labor market demand, which will give students early momentum toward earning a credential of value and reach their career goals.

When school systems, postsecondary institutions, and employers work together, they can identify approaches that support success for young people. We work to create roadmaps and facilitate partnerships between K-12 districts, postsecondary institutions, and employers that result in more career-connected coursework and experiential learning for our target population of students. For example, in Texas we work with partners to demonstrate how pathways can be built over time through supportive policies, research-based approaches, and data infrastructure that helps drive insights and collaboration.

WHY FOCUS ON EDUCATIONAL PATHWAYS?

Why focus on educational pathways?

Not all young people have access to opportunities that facilitate success in school and in life. In particular, Black and Latino students and students experiencing poverty lose momentum in disproportionately large numbers during key transition periods between high school, college, and employment due to lack of support.

If we want to ensure greater economic mobility for these young people, we must ensure that they have the tools, resources, and services they need to not only make it to college, but to earn a valued credential and gain the social capital that will help them succeed in a career, achieve financial stability, and make meaningful contributions to their community. We know that relationship-based services, including mentoring and advising, can be crucial in enabling young people to get on a path to realizing their dreams.

Few education systems currently provide these supports, especially at key transition points. This contributes to a stark racial achievement gap: Only 60 percent of Black and Latino high school graduates immediately enroll in a postsecondary program after high school, compared with 70 percent of their white peers. This disparity compounds the effects of an already inequitable labor market, where Black and Latino bachelor’s degree holders earn less on average than their white counterparts with the same degree.

Addressing this disparity is a matter of urgency even in the best of times, but COVID-19 has exacerbated these dynamics. The disruptions and uncertainty don’t have to mean that students fall off their path, but we need to implement and scale up proven approaches to ensure that the pathways young people envision are attainable.

STRATEGY LEADERSHIP

Strategy leadership

RELATED PROGRAMS

Related programs

The foundation’s programs in the U.S. work to transform schools, systems, and society to ensure equitable opportunities for learning, growth, and prosperity.
Students, like this 8th grade social studies class in Chicago, need safe, nurturing learning environments where they are equipped to meet high standards.
K-12 Education

The K-12 Education team supports educators and public schools in improving educational outcomes for Black and Latino students and students experiencing poverty.

Economic Mobility and Opportunity
Economic Mobility and Opportunity

The Economic Mobility and Opportunity team works with partners to ensure that more people in the United States can climb the economic ladder and improve their lives.

Postsecondary Success
Postsecondary Success

The Postsecondary Success team supports colleges and universities in making institutional reforms that eliminate race, ethnicity, and income as predictors of educational success.

OUR PARTNERS

Our partners

We do our work in collaboration with grantees and other partners, who join with us in taking risks, pushing for new solutions, and harnessing the transformative power of science and technology.
Center for Research on College to Workforce Transitions

CCWT conducts and support research, critical policy analysis, and public dialogue on student experiences with the transition from college to the workforce in order to promote academic and career success for all learners.

Charles A. Dana Center, University of Texas at Austin

We support the Dana Center’s Launch Years initiative, which aims to ensure that every student has access to high-quality math education that is relevant to their future.

Christensen Institute

We support the Who You Know initiative, which helps schools take innovative approaches to building students’ social capital through networks of relationships.

JFF

We support JFF’s Building Equitable Pathways initiative, which works to strengthen national systems of high-quality college and career pathways to better serve young people who are Black, Latinx, and experiencing poverty.

OneGoal

OneGoal addresses systemic barriers to students from low-income communities completing their postsecondary education, by focusing on the transitional years from high school through the first year of college.