Through their College & Career Readiness Program, CIS of Atlanta provides necessary supports to high-need juniors and seniors as they prepare for graduation.
Although Clayton County’s population accounts for just 6% of Greater Atlanta’s population, they account for 10% of opportunity youth — people between the ages of 16 and 19 who are neither in school nor part of the workforce. CIS of Atlanta is working tirelessly within the school system to decrease the number of opportunity youth in Clayton.
The program provides hands-on experience and guidance through difficult and confusing processes, walking students through transcript audits, college tours, and college applications. They cover essential topics, like how to write an impactful college essay, how to select a well-suited college or technical school, and how to interview for a job. They also offer family engagement activities to help parents and caregivers increase their understanding and awareness of college and career options.
In 2023, 209 students across ten Clayton County high schools graduated from the program. After graduation, CIS of Atlanta provides students with a trunk of items to help them in their next phase of life.
Graduate Antoinette Robinson of Lovejoy High School said of the experience, “I have never had anyone do something like this for me. I have been introduced to other resources that will help me be successful in life.” Robinson is now at the University of Georgia pursuing higher education.
As displayed on United Way’s Child Well-Being Map, only two of the 70 neighborhoods that make up Clayton are not considered high or highest-need neighborhoods. Of the 24 neighborhoods in neighboring Fayette County, only one is considered high-need. Additionally, within Clayton, 8% of teens ages 16 to 19 are considered opportunity youth, as opposed to only 2% in Fayette.
While there isn’t a single determining factor that would explain youth in Fayette having better chances of success, there is one undeniable fact: BIPOC youth are not afforded the same opportunities for success as white youth. Clayton’s population is comprised of 82% BIPOC, while Fayette’s is comprised of 36% BIPOC. The discrepancy in upward mobility of young people indicates a systemic bias against BIPOC youth.
In Clayton, 20% of those 25 years or older have bachelor’s degrees, 19% live in poverty, and 17% live without health insurance. In Fayette, those numbers are 46%, 6.5%, and 9.5%, respectively. When young people are faced with these barriers to success, their ability to gain wealth is greatly affected.
Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens explained the importance of continued work to provide paths for opportunity youth, “Education is the primary driver to reducing the wealth gap in this country. CIS’s mission to surround students with a community of support is just as critical now as it was 50 years ago.”
According to the latest data from United Way of Greater Atlanta’s 2023 Child Well-Being Outlook: Insights for Impact Report, Greater Atlanta is home to nearly 14,000 opportunity youth. In 2022, United Way invested $135,000 into CIS of Atlanta to aid in their work with this population.
Overall, the organization invested over $2.8 million into programs with a focus on college and career readiness throughout Greater Atlanta.Investments like these aren’t possible without your support. Help unlock the potential of children, families, and communities today by donating to their Child Well-Being Fund.