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Orange County United Way’s commitment to academic success for our youth is absolute.

We believe in providing our children every opportunity for a quality education, by focusing on key milestones impacting high school graduation. Early grade reading ensures kids are reading well by 3rd grade, tracking academic ability in middle school, and Destination Graduation℠—our Education initiative in middle and high schools ensures completion of requirements for grade promotion and planning for post-secondary education.

And graduating high school on-time and career ready has never been more crucial to creating a stronger workforce. By 2018, the majority of jobs in California will require higher education; yet less than half of Californians with a high school diploma will be college-ready.

With so much at stake, even one dropout is one too many.

The Orange County Education Gap: What OC is Facing

The education achievement gap is often fueled by family and community poverty, language and cultural barriers, lack of advocacy and limited educational opportunities outside of a stressed school system. A few hurdles our at-risk students face:

Our Response to OC’s High School Dropout Rate

Destination Graduation, powered by Orange County United Way, is aimed at reducing the local high school dropout rate and bridging the education achievement gap. Offered for middle and high school students in high need districts, Destination Graduation provides a solid path to enhancing student success.

Improving Teacher Training and Parental Effectiveness

Teachers in the program attend intensive summer education programs to learn innovative academic frameworks, creating a classroom culture of rigor and scholastic success.

To date, United Way has supported the training of 150 local teachers and expanded teaching methods to 180 additional school personnel

Student Engagement and Career Exploration

Orange County United Way is providing all Destination Graduation students exciting career exploration opportunities, both on and off-campus, via:

  • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) experimental hands-on learning modules
  • Off-site STEM and college field trips
  • Corporate Career Days
  • College and Career Fairs

26,000+ High school students received mentoring, tutoring, career planning and college exposure through Destination Graduation and other targeted programs to ensure they have every opportunity to succeed and contribute to our community

Destination Graduation currently partners with the administrators, teachers, students, and parents at 13 high schools and 9 middle schools, preparing more than 30,000 low-income students with the skills they need to be successful employees and citizens to compete in the global economy. Improving the graduation rate is a cornerstone of our FACE 2.0 2024 goal: Increase the high school graduation rate to 95% among students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds.


Download the Destination Graduation program flyer to learn more.

Success Stories

For the past four years, Destination Graduation has truly helped me to find myself as a person and helped me with goals for the future.
I LIVE UNITED because I believe that everyone has the potential to go to college.
Watch Rodolfo's Story

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