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The Challenge

Students who do not graduate career and college ready lack the skills, exposure, connections and social capital to experience a successful transition into post-secondary college, training & the workforce.

Millions of students drop out of school each year, often because they do not see the relevance of the education they receive in traditional school programs.

  • Too many students can’t see a clear, transparent connection between their program of study and tangible opportunities in the labor market (Pathways to Prosperity, 2011).

For a large segment of our population, school-to-career systems in the U.S. remain poorly aligned with 21st century requirements.

  • Fifty-three percent of U.S. jobs are middle skill, meaning that they require some form of education and training beyond a high school diploma, but less than a four-year college degree. Yet, only 43 percent of U.S. workers are trained at this level (National Skills Coalition, 2019).

65% of jobs today require some type of post-secondary credentials, but sending more students to traditional four year colleges has not produced needed results.

  • Key industries in the United States are unable to find enough sufficiently trained workers to fill these (middle skill) jobs (National Skills Coalition, 2017).

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Our Solution

Career Pathways addresses these issues by providing the experiences typically associated with well-resourced young people (job shadows, college visits, internships, community building activities) to low-resourced youth. 

Career Pathways provides the guidance students and parents need to understand and navigate the multiple pathways available. When needed, we also provide transportation, child care, food, training costs, costs associated with licensure, enrollment requirements, and equipment including computers, materials and clothing in order to remove every possible obstacle to opportunity our students face.


NC Works Next Gen: A program offering career advising, mentoring and leadership development to help young adults ages 16 to 24 remove the obstacles to careers. MeckEd provides services for young adults attending Garinger, Harding, Julius Chambers and West Charlotte high schools. For those not in school full-time or with a full-time job, Central Piedmont Community College and ResCare Workforce Services are the partner organizations. We can also connect young adults who don’t meet program eligibility with other youth-serving organizations.

Our Impact

Since 2012, Career Pathways has grown exponentially.

  • 14,000 students have participated in site visits, job shadowing and roundtable discussions.

  • Over 4,000 students have been exposed to post-secondary options through campus visits.

  • 800+ students have been placed in an internship or apprenticeship.

  • Since 2017, 97% of Career Pathways seniors have graduated on time.

Companies recognize the value of Career Pathways and continually praise our results.

  • Bill Leonard, President of Atrium Health University, praised Career Pathways as “…an amazing connection between education and real life...” He went on to say, “Career Pathways is absolutely a method of changing the upward mobility of Charlotte into something that is dramatically positive”.

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