Our country's education and workforce systems are inequitable, failing to meet the needs of our country’s most marginalized citizens. Historically, workforce education has led to low-wage jobs disconnected from ongoing higher education, which has created significant barriers for career advancement. At the same time, traditional higher education has increasingly become unaffordable for Americans from lower-income backgrounds while also lacking direct connection to the labor market. The consequences of these systemic failures are dire. Despite increases in national high school graduation and college enrollment rates, systemic racism and inequity mean that college persistence continues to be low, particularly for people that are Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC).

At Propel America, we believe a better system should and can exist. We believe high school graduates shouldn’t have to choose between forestalling income and accruing significant debt while pursuing a traditional college degree or forestalling education and mobility for low-wage, entry-level work with few opportunities for advancement. Propel is building that better system, a ‘third way’ solution that allows young adults from low-income backgrounds to access an affordable and efficient pathway to a good job that serves as a springboard to a choice-filled life.

By working backwards from the needs of established employer partners, Propel America:

  • Supports young adults (18 to 24 years old), particularly those from low-income backgrounds, to prepare for living wage jobs
  • Partners with training and higher education organizations to offer workforce credentials that allow students (or “fellows,” as we call them) to earn college credits
  • Provides wraparound coaching and professional skill development to ensure fellows have what they need to be successful in their job interview, on the first day of work, and a plan for ongoing education and career advancement.