Over a year and a half into the COVID-19 pandemic, students in low-income communities continue to face amplified barriers to education, including challenges to overcoming learning loss, impacts on their well-being, and reduced access to opportunities.
Overcome learning loss
School disruptions have set all students back in their learning, but youth in low-income communities—those with the fewest resources available to them—are most at risk of long-term negative impacts.
Low-income households cannot afford out-of-school academic or extracurricular programs that can help overcome the learning loss that has occurred, leading to a wider achievement gap—one that could last a lifetime—between students in low-income communities and their peers from more affluent backgrounds.
Impacts on well-being
Impacts on mental health and personal well-being have become an increasing concern for all youth throughout the pandemic. But for young people in low-income communities, access to help may not be readily available or affordable.
Disadvantaged communities have borne the brunt of the economic disruptions caused by the pandemic, adding additional financial stress and food insecurity to the ongoing barriers students in low-income communities face, and impacting their ability to stay focused on their learning.
Reduced access to opportunities
Some of the challenges students in low-income communities have faced during the pandemic go beyond school. For example, the loss of part-time jobs during the pandemic curtailed some students’ ability to save for post-secondary education, impacting their career goals.
Similarly, many internships and volunteer experiences that help build skills and social capital were put on hold. The loss of these opportunities has affected young people, especially those with already limited networks, as they transition to life after high school.
How we’re helping to close the gap
Since the start of the pandemic, Pathways Program locations across the country have provided a range of academic, financial, social, and one-on-one supports to ensure each student has what they need to overcome the barriers they face.
- Through tutoring and tailored study plans, Pathways tutors and staff are keeping students on-track with their studies. In addition, Pathways staff are helping youth stick to healthy routines and build habits that support learning.
- Personalized support from a Pathways staff member ensures that all students have a trusted adult they can turn to for advice or guidance. This has been especially important as students cope with the daily stresses of the pandemic.
- Pathways staff have helped students connect with mentors who can provide career guidance and advice. Pathways mentors are professionals in various fields, providing youth with valuable industry knowledge and giving them opportunities to build a network that can help them beyond high school.
We know that opening school doors is not enough to get students back on track—students in situations of disadvantage will need personalized, ongoing support that addresses the negative impacts of COVID-19. That is precisely the support that the Pathways Program provides.
With your support, we will ensure that the pandemic does not increase high school dropout rates. Together, we will close the gap between students in low-income communities and their education.