We Refuse to Lose: Profiles of communities building equitable pathways for youth

What is the Resource: Since 2019, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has supported five communities — Buffalo, NY; Chattanooga, TN; Dallas, TX, the Rio Grande Valley, TX; and Tacoma, WA — that are working to close racial gaps for students journeying from early education to their careers. Community leaders — especially those who work to support youth in their educational and career pathways — can now read case studies on the four of the five communities to hear about how they helped young people work towards their career goals across different regional contexts.  

Why This Matters: No one entity alone in the educational or employment space can do the work of helping to make educational and employment systems more equitable and accessible for young people of color and young people experiencing poverty. These case studies highlight the experiences of communities from very different regions of the United States coming together around shared goals. Other community leaders can learn and understand from their spectrum of experiences about building more equitable pathways for young people of color and young people experiencing poverty.  

What’s Inside: The case studies contain in-depth narratives of what the work looked like to help young people achieve their career goals across four of the five communities (the Dallas, TX story is coming soon). The case studies also detail how these communities dealt with the impacts of the COVID pandemic. 

“The Rio Grande Valley along the Texas-Mexico border, a region where postsecondary options were not available historically, is more than 90 percent Latino. In the late 1980s, a lawsuit resulted in a profound uptick in the percentage of students attending college, and Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion rates in the region—one of the poorest in the country—now outpace the rest of Texas. Furthermore, 87 percent of the Valley’s K-12 students now attend an A or B school as designated by the state, compared to 65 percent statewide. Faith, hard work and a commitment to action propel this community’s pursuit of greater equity forward.”

“In a community with a longstanding reputation for exceptional charitable giving, the Chattanooga 2.0 coalition is leading an effort to overcome an equally long standing resistance to talking openly about race-based inequities in education. Coalition partners are optimistic that they can and will overcome this barrier as they strive for systems change.”

“With the help of Say Yes Buffalo, the city’s cradle-to-career community partnership, Buffalo saw a 16-point increase in the high school graduation rate and an eight-point increase in the college matriculation rate in a school district in which 80 percent of students are of color. In the era of COVID-19 and a renewed fight against racial oppression, Say Yes Buffalo and its partners continue to advance equity by creating economic opportunity for children and youth in one of the most racially and economically segregated cities in the country.”

“With the help of Graduate Tacoma, the city’s cradle-to-career community partnership, Tacoma has closed its 33 percent Black-White graduation rate gap. Graduate Tacoma continues to advance its commitment to equity of opportunity for students of color in the era of COVID-19 and a renewed fight against racial oppression and violence.”

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