BATON ROUGE, La. — Sept. 22, 2021 — Propel America, a non-profit organization that was founded in 2019 to unlock education and career opportunities for young adults in low-income communities, today announced a new initiative that will harness the power of one-on-one coaching. In collaboration with InsideTrack, the organization will build a corps of coaches over the next two and a half years who will support high school graduates as they navigate the complexities of career training, preparation and navigation.

“Too often, students from economically disenfranchised communities must choose between taking on low-wage jobs with limited growth potential or risking long-term debt by pursuing a traditional college degree. We believe there is a third way that is a better and more equitable alternative,” said Paymon Rouhanifard, co-founder and CEO of Propel America. “Our work is about creating an alternative model to help young adults access a faster and more affordable pathway to good-paying jobs. Providing intensive coaching and wrap-around support is a foundational component of our jobs-first education strategy.”

Nationally, there are 4.6 million youth ages 16-24 — so-called “opportunity youth” — who are not enrolled in school or working. Even as traditional college enrollments continue to decline, the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. labor market consists of “middle skills jobs” that require less than a four-year college degree.

An alternative to traditional college-to-career pathways, Propel America helps recent high school graduates (aged 18-24) access the technical training and education and support needed to succeed in good-paying jobs after high school. To date, the non-profit has piloted this program in Camden, N.J.; Baton Rouge and northern Louisiana; Providence, R.I.; and western Massachusetts and has plans to grow. Its unique model helps to forge connections between high school students and local job-training organizations, colleges, and employers.

Backed by financial support from the Baton Rouge Area Foundation and Strada Education Network, Propel America will team with InsideTrack to enhance its existing internal coaching program designed to help participating students navigate the non-academic barriers to success. Drawing on InsideTrack’s 20-year history of providing evidence-based student success coaching, the Propel America team will train and certify its staff on advanced coaching techniques and build the infrastructure to sustain the program over time.

“Students often face an impossible choice between gaining experience and income in the workforce or taking on debt to pay for college. It too often creates a false dichotomy between short-term economic rewards and long-term mobility that for too many students may ultimately lead to neither,” said Ruth Bauer White, president of InsideTrack. “This work is about reducing the financial and personal barriers to success for young people who are just beginning their careers, helping them to develop an educational and professional foundation to build on for many years to come.”

Propel America’s unique model starts with a bootcamp for recent high school graduates and GED completers ages 18-24, where students begin an intensive career exploration and planning process and learn and refine essential skills for completing their job training program. Students then join a cohort of fellows to learn about and train for specific career paths, followed by a career transition phase where students receive job placement support from a network of established employer partners. Fellows receive ongoing support and coaching, provided at no cost to them, along with stipends to cover basic needs while they are in training.

About Propel America

Propel America is a non-profit building a “third way” solution for young adults from low-income backgrounds to access an affordable and quick pathway to a thriving-wage job — and college credits — that serves as a springboard for career mobility. Our mission is to empower low-income young adults with the skills, credentials, experiences, and networks they need for a good job that leads to upward career mobility. We work in five states across the country to deliver on-the-ground student coaching, skill-building for career readiness, and support for recent high school graduates to transition to the workplace and upwardly-mobile jobs. Visit us at www.propelamerica.org.

About InsideTrack

InsideTrack is passionate about student success. We partner with institutions and organizations to improve enrollment, persistence, completion and career readiness. Our student support methodology uncovers first hand feedback about student goals and challenges. Through strategic guidance, staff training and student coaching, we help institutions turn this feedback into actionable insights that drive better student outcomes. As a nonprofit member of the Strada Education Network, we offer partners access to a comprehensive range of student success solutions as well as the latest research and insights on student success. We’ve supported more than 2.5 million students since 2001 and currently serve over 4,000 programs. Visit us at www.insidetrack.org and follow us on Twitter @InsideTrack.

About Baton Rouge Area Foundation

Based in Louisiana’s capital city, the Baton Rouge Area Foundation is among the largest community foundations in the country. The Foundation improves the quality of life by providing services to our fund donors, assisting nonprofits with fundraising, and undertaking projects that improve the quality of life for all people in the region. Since its inception in 1964, the Foundation has awarded more than $600 million in grants to nonprofit organizations around the world. Our current projects include saving and beautifying the University/City Park lakes system, justice reform, advocating for passenger rail service between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, enhancing services for people on the autism spectrum, and preserving public art. Visit us at www.braf.org.

About Strada Education Network

Strada Education Network is a new kind of nonprofit social impact organization, dedicated to improving lives by forging clearer and more purposeful pathways between education and employment. Our approach combines innovative research, thought leadership, strategic philanthropy, mission-aligned investments and a network of affiliate organizations. Together, we work to better serve the millions of Americans seeking to complete postsecondary education and training, gain clear value from those experiences, and build meaningful careers. Learn more at stradaeducation.org.

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