participants in the United Way’s On Track to Success programThe United Way’s On Track to Success program helps students in low-income families prepare for the next stage after high school.

United Way program offers ‘anchor’ to students in transition to post-secondary education

From mentorship to fostering community connections, providing students with “wrap-around support” as they make the transition to post-secondary education is the goal of United Way’s On Track to Success.

The program offers a wide range of support to high school students in low-income families as they prepare to head into the next chapter — which for many can be an overwhelming experience.

“Our role is to support the great work that’s already happening at these institutions to help students transition, working collaboratively with our partners to meet the needs of the students best to not only get them there, which is a huge achievement, but to stay and continue with their educational pursuits,” United Way success coach Kaila DiCecco said.

As a success coach, DiCecco connects with students for the organization’s On Track On to Campus program and works with institutional partners to guide students towards available resources.

“We act as that anchor or contact person as a first step. If somebody or their family is feeling quite overwhelmed and not sure where to start, the relationship is already there and developed,” she explained.

The University of Windsor launched its Campus Campaign for the United Way Monday with a focus on the On Track to Success program which helps to remove barriers that may prevent students from graduating high school and pursuing post-secondary education.

DiCecco said each student is paired with a success coach to offer mentorship, getting to know the student and their family. In some cases, students have been working with their success coach since Grade 9.

Students continue to be supported through their post-secondary journey, and what that looks like is up to them, DiCecco explained.

“What drew me to the program is this unique ability to put the student or the youth at the centre of that support. It allows them to kind of lead and dictate what success is to them. So, what is going to help that individual be successful and obtain their goals?” she said.

“They are taking agency of their future and their careers and their aspirations and I’m essentially along for the ride in the best way. They’re the ones who will be doing it all, but I’m around to cheer them on and help them get there.”

This type of support can range from helping students prioritize mental and physical wellness, one-on-one mentoring, assistance with researching different post-secondary programs, support with applications, and ensuring students have the appropriate credits for their desired program, as well as helping to navigate financial aid.

According to the United Way website, there are 173 students enrolled in the program which runs in priority neighbourhoods of West Windsor, downtown, and Leamington. Ninety per cent of students graduated high school on time — 7.5 per cent higher than the provincial average.

Visit for more information on the program and how to donate.

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