Education – Helping Children and Youth Achieve Their Potential

United Way Works to end America's education crisis

Education is the cornerstone of individual and community success. However, with more than 1.2 million children dropping out each year, America faces an education crisis. The cost? More than $312 billion in lost wages, taxes and productivity over their lifetimes. These trends are reversible, but only when communities and public, private, and nonprofit sectors work together.

Our Goal

In 2008, United Way launched a 10-year initiative to cut by half the number of young people who drop out of high school by 2018. It’s an ambitious goal, but by utilizing our core strengths, a national network, committed partners, and public engagement capacity — we can achieve it.

Our Strategy

We can’t focus on high school alone. High school dropouts are 12 years in the making, usually starting early childhood education behind schedule. United Way's model focuses on supportive communities, effective schools, and strong families — strategies and approaches rooted in research. Tackling the education challenge requires reframing education on a birth to 21 continuum.


The acronym SPARK stands for Strong, Prepared and Ready for Kindergarten.  The Aurora SPARK Initiative is patterned after a national United Way early childhood program, Success By 6, that operates in more than 350 communities across the United States.

Click here for more information on how you can support SPARK


 Click here to visit our Agency Partners in Education