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To ensure strong communities, it is imperative that all our nation’s students graduate from high school prepared for post-secondary education or the workforce. This preparation starts early, with access to affordable, high-quality child-care and early learning opportunities so that children enter school ready to learn. Elementary and secondary school students must have access to a challenging, well-rounded curriculum and wraparound supports, such as afterschool and summer learning programs. And because a high school diploma is not sufficient in today’s knowledge economy, every young adult should have the opportunity to pursue a quality degree or credential, even as higher education costs continue to rise and despite the barriers to entry and completion that exist for low-income students.


To ensure that 95 percent of students graduate high school ready for college and a career and 5 million people get better jobs, United Way will fight for:


  • Increase access to high quality early care and education opportunities, especially for low-income children and their families.
    • Increased CCDBG funding to improve access to high quality child care for all children, especially for low-income children.
    • Increased funding for and access to high quality early childhood programs via Early Head Start, Head Start, and state-sponsored Pre-K programs.
    • Increased funding and/or set-asides as part of existing funding streams, to support professional development and training for early childhood staff to strengthen program quality.
  • Support the funding and effective implementation of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
    • The implementation of ESSA’s provisions with fidelity at the state level, to protect disadvantaged groups and to ensure that families and communities are engaged in these efforts.
    • Increased funding for the critical programs authorized in ESSA that address literacy, out-of-school time, and wraparound supports such as the 21st Century Community Learning Centers and Full-Service Community Schools Program.
  • Expand opportunities for students to obtain a post-secondary credential.
    • Federal efforts to increase college access, persistence and completion through the Higher Education Act
    • Strengthened programs and policies that minimize student debt and help families make more informed borrowing decisions such as the Federal Pell Grant program. 
    • Funding for federal programs that provide youth with alternative pathways to post-secondary education and the careers of their choice, through the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act and other federal programs.


Read the full Policy Agenda

Fight for Investments in Children and Families

As Congress gears up to make important decisions on federal investments for the upcoming year, take a moment to support key programs in education that support strong communities.

Take Action Now