1 in 5 students does not graduate. #UNIGNORABLE

One in five youth in Edmonton does not complete high school. For many local students, the goal of graduation is out of reach because of personal or family related challenges. Furthermore, parents who don’t complete high school are most likely to have children who follow this pattern, perpetuating a cycle of poverty. United Way aims to break that cycle.

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When families are struggling, they often lack funds or connections to get the help they need. United Way brings together programs and services to help socially vulnerable children achieve their best. By taking care of critical needs now, we stand a far better chance of helping students get through tough times, build skills and set them up for poverty-free futures.

United Way envisions a community where every student has the opportunity to complete high school with pride – paving the way for post-secondary and career opportunities, allowing them to reach their full potential and live healthy and fulfilling lives. Students who are educated, healthy, and supported can transform their communities and pass on the benefits to their children, and to their children’s children.

Roughly 20 years ago, education consultant Sandra Woitas was the principal at Norwood Elementary School in Edmonton. She identified many needs in the school which her teachers did not have the expertise or time to address. So she connected with United Way and some of its funded partners to bring student services directly into the school.

Sandra Woitas

Sandra Woitas

As the former Executive Director of the Edmonton Public School Foundation, Woitas then helped create a partnership with United Way to fill in the gaps of resources to help keep at-risk kids in school.

“Classrooms are becoming increasingly complex and students’ needs are incredibly diverse,” shares Woitas. “The complexities we face in education demand collaboration.”

By providing wrap-around services, United Way  helps solve the complex problems experienced by vulnerable students and their families. Thanks to the help of donors, United Way invests in a range of coordinated supports such as nutritious food programs, reading and writing coaches, in-school mentors and counsellors, after-school programs, and even supports for a student’s family.


After almost dropping out, Emily got the supports she needed to graduate high school with pride. Click below to see her story.


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