A Bridge to Success

A young dad gets back on track

Learn more about Bridges to Success

United Way's initiative to provide free coaching, instruction, testing, and other supportive students to central Iowa adults working toward their high school equivalency diploma.


Aaron had received all of his test scores except one. He waited through the weekend. He worried when he would know. Then, the news came: “You passed!”

Aaron achieved his high school equivalency diploma 17 years after he had dropped out of school to care for his newborn daughter and to work full time. With this equivalency diploma, he could now complete his auto restoration certificate and start his own business—a long-time dream.

Helping Aaron achieve his goals was Bridges to Success, a United Way initiative that provides free coaching, instruction, testing, and other supportive services to central Iowa adults working toward their equivalency diploma and a sustainable career pathway. Each student receives free one-on-one coaching not only for classes and subjects, but help eliminating barriers that can make getting to class difficult... things like childcare, transportation, and more.

In central Iowa, a high school diploma means a student can earn an average of $700,000 more over the course of their working life. Last year, 1,640 central Iowans enrolled in Bridges to Success to earn their high school equivalency diploma and received supportive coaching. Of those who graduated, 40% increased their income.

Aaron especially appreciated having a supportive coach and a cohort of students when he went through the Bridges to Success program.

“If somebody didn’t understand,” he said, “everybody was there to try to explain it to the best of their ability and to help that person along.”



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