Goal: Increase on-time high school graduation rates and help students transition to post-secondary schooling and training.

Too many young people in our area start school behind or gradually lose ground over their academic careers. Students who don't read at grade level by third-grade struggle with increasingly difficult texts and are at a high risk for dropping out of school. Likewise, students who complete middle school unprepared for the academic demands and social pressures of high school frequently quit school or limp toward graduation without the skills required to obtain stable employment.

Fortunately, research has also shown us what students need to succeed in school and beyond:

  • The support of caring adults who encourage students' academic and social/emotional development;
  • A rigorous education that prepares students for the demands of college and career;
  • Extra help when they are falling behind; and
  • Opportunities to explore post-secondary college and career options.

Our education programs and initiatives are informed by this research and we are hard at work in the community to help keep students in school and learning.

Our Education Initiatives

Mentoring Matters
United Way NCA, along with Deloitte and Greater DC Cares, leads the regional Mentoring Matters initiative dedicated to reducing the “mentor gap” in the Metro DC area. This coalition of more than 25 highly effective local mentoring organizations convenes for information sharing, mentor recruitment efforts, training and professional development opportunities. Evaluation data show that participation in Mentoring Matters has improved both the capacity of member organizations and their ability to recruit and retain members. If you’re interested in becoming a mentor, please contact Stacia Klim for information on member programs.

A High-Quality Education
We work with our member nonprofits to make sure students are ready for school, meet key benchmarks along their academic careers and transition smoothly from middle school to high school. In addition, we sponsor a team of City Year corps members, who work at Kelly Miller Middle School, supporting teachers in the classroom, providing tutoring and mentoring services, and holding students to high standards for the new ABCs — Attendance, good Behavior, and Course Completion in the key subjects of English and Math.


Extra Help for At-Risk Students
We support — with funding, volunteers, and technical assistance — nearly 50 member nonprofits offering tutoring programs and academic counseling that help students improve their academic skills and prepare for high school graduation. And we are key stakeholder in the Raise DC cradle-to-career initiative that aligns the work of schools, nonprofit service providers, and government agencies to keep kids on track for graduation.


A Smooth Transition to Post-Secondary Education and Career Opportunities
We work with our member nonprofits and corporate partners to provide job shadowing and career exploration opportunities to young people. Through these opportunities students learn more about the academic requirements and workplace demands of a range of professions. We're also working to align the pipeline of schooling, credentialing and job opportunities in our area to build a healthy, prosperous community for everyone. As part of that work, we serve as the lead partner for college and career readiness in the D.C. Promise Neighborhood Initiative in Ward 7.


Readers, Tutors & Mentors
With our deep connections — in the private sector, government agencies, public schools, philanthropic organizations, and the nonprofit community — we are uniquely positioned to connect struggling, at-risk youth to the supports they need. We work with our corporate partners to engage their staff in meaningful volunteer work; we promote individual volunteerism by connecting caring adults with students in need of academic help or a supportive role model; and we ourselves give hundreds of hours to time in support of youth-serving programs. Through our Million Reader, Tutor & Mentor Initiative, more than 1,000 community members have signed up to work with our member nonprofits.



More of our Work


Every child in the national capital region enters school ready to learn, succeeds in school and leaves well prepared for life and work in the 21st Century.


United Way of the National Capital Area is committed to increasing the numbers of healthy children, young people and adults in our community.

Financial Stability

United Way of the National Capital Area works to increase the number of financially stable individuals and families.