Education and Equity



A dozen years ago, our staff, board, and community volunteers determined that it was time for us to use our resources in a more targeted and strategic way. After holding a series of Community Conversations, we came to the decision that education was the crucial area to focus our efforts on. Today, with leadership from youth, families, and community members; and all the schools and community partners of United for Youth (U4Y), we’ve further refined what this means for our work by collectively committing to a Bold Community Goal:

By 2035, all Asheville City and Buncombe County students graduate from high school ready and fully prepared to pursue their goals and dreams.


If we want ALL children and youth to learn, grow, and thrive in a vibrant, healthy, and connected community, then every person, business, and institution must find their unique role to play. Whether you choose to give, advocate, volunteer, partner, or engage in making this vision a reality, your active participation is vital. below are just a few ways you can make a difference. 



Learn more about United for Youth.


Volunteer in support of students and families.


Learn more about Restorative Practices




When the circumstances into which people are born — such as their race, ethnicity, ZIP code, and socioeconomic status — predict the likelihood of decreased access to social and economic mobility in life, this is referred to as the opportunity gap. And like many others, our community has grappled with opportunity gaps for a long time. 


Place your cursor along one of the four lines below to see time-specific performance data.


As you can see in the graph above, the opportunity gap can cause other disparities including school achievement gaps. It’s important to remember that while we can see the impact of the opportunity gaps through grades and test scores within our schools, they are born in our communities.

Where we find inequity, we also find opportunity and the responsibility to work toward a more just future. We know that graduating from high school is one such opportunity and a powerful predictor of the future health and economic stability of an individual, and their community. We are all impacted by this, not just youth, or their families. Our whole community benefits when youth succeed. 

United Way is looking at all the ways we can use our resources to support a “cradle to community” approach to addressing these complex issues. Whether it is how we invest the funds we raise, how we mobilize volunteers or connect people to resources, we have a duty to evolve and grow with our community. 

But we know that no single person or organization can or should try to solve an issue this big alone, it will take all of us working together in new ways to effect change that matters to our children and our community.

This is why we've chosen to serve as a backbone of support for United for Youth. 

Together, with youth and family leadership, we work to ensure that educational outcomes are determined by the high quality of our schools and partner organizations, the abundance and accessibility of opportunities in our community, the strength of our collaborations, and never again predictable based on a student’s race, home language, family income, or any other dimension of identity.