We’re making sure children and youth can start school ready to succeed, become proficient readers at a young age, stay on track in middle school, earn their high school diploma on time and pursue a college degree.

The Challenge

When we launched our communitywide action plan FACE 2024, 4,000 OC students were dropping out of high school every year. Today, the outlook is improving somewhat but, even one dropout is one too many.

Dropout prevention starts at birth, at a time when children and parents are engaged and have access to the tools they need to succeed. That’s why we’re leveling the playing field by improving educational opportunities for our children at key points in their young life—helping put them on the path to academic and life success.


Orange County United Way at Work


OC Reads: Early Literacy in OC

Helping prepare our next generation means providing key foundational support early on through early grade reading and literacy programs so kids are reading by third grade
Did you know

Did you know...

Children who are not reading at grade level by 3rd grade are four times more likely to drop out before high school graduation? Learn more...


Destination Graduation

Engaging, empowering and inspiring at-risk youth to finish high school on-time—and be better prepared for college and career
Did you know

Did you know...

On average, high school graduates earn more per week than dropouts—and provide a public benefit of over $200K in lower government spending and higher tax revenues? Learn more...



In just 30 minutes a week, from your desk, you can help an at-risk student learn to read—helping to promote success in school
Did you know

Did you know...

Reading a story to a child develops their vocabulary, improves their ability to learn to read, and—perhaps most important—foster a lifelong love of books and reading? Learn more...

Success Stories

Michela – Education

United Way’s Destination Graduation program has given me the opportunity to go on several different career-oriented field trips that have helped me define my path for the next four years in college.

— Michela