In Central Iowa, 33,329 people – 6% of the population – do not have a high school diploma or equivalency. These individuals are only qualified for low-skill jobs because they lack necessary education or training and will make far less than high school graduates throughout their working lives.
United Way and a coalition of community partners recently came together to determine what changes must occur in order to bridge this gap for the
thousands of central Iowans who do not have a high school diploma. From this meeting, a community-wide goal was set to help 10,000 more people earn their high school equivalency by 2020. This goal has been endorsed by Capital Crossroads, EDGE, The Tomorrow Plan and the Housing Tomorrow Plan.
To reach this goal, United Way and its partners have launched an innovative, evidence-based program, called Bridges to Success. Bridges to Success Program has four key elements for success:
1. A “contextualized curriculum” – high school equivalency (HiSET) coursework set within the context of the areas of greatest job potential in the state of Iowa;
2. The development of study habits among participants that closely mirror those expected in college;
3. Full-time instructors who have been trained in the skills required to teach adults with numerous educational barriers; and
4. Extensive wrap-around and supportive services.
Over five years, 10,085 individuals will be assessed and enrolled into the Bridges To Success Program. Outcomes for the project:
68% (6,858) of enrolled individuals will complete the program;
75% (5,350) of those who complete the program will pass the HiSET exam and earn an equivalency diploma;
25% (1,338) of participating students will enroll in post-secondary education or training (credit programs or non-credit certificate programs);
15% (803) of participating students will earn post-secondary credit or credential within 12 months of completion; and
25% (1,338) of participating students will increase their earned income within 12 months of completion.
Read the Education Pays infographic to see the connection between education, employment and income.