United Way of Passaic County believes that education is one of the building blocks of a good life. Education is essential for getting and keeping a good job, which in turn leads to financial stability for adults and families.

Imagine a world that fosters hope and opportunity for everyone. A world where all children receive a quality education that offers a pathway to a greater tomorrow.

United Way of Passaic County is working at critical points along the school spectrum to ensure the academic success of youth. Communities are engaging to support youth by volunteering and championing the cause of education. This mobilization of resources is creating hope and opportunity for youth who are now better prepared to succeed.

In Passaic County:

  • Only 80% of residents (ages 25+) have a high school diploma.
  • An average of 75% of students in Paterson graduate from high school.
  • Our goal is to work in partnership with our community to increase high school graduation rates in our communities.

According to respondents of last year’s Passaic County Voices community survey, there is a significant shortage of positive activities outside of school for children over the age of 12. Our goal is to increase the availability of positive activities for teens.

Learn About the Issue

Education is a cornerstone of individual and community success. Those with a college education or higher typically have lower rates of unemployment and earn more money than those with a high school diploma. With the 21st century global economy demanding highly skilled workers, United Way of Passaic County's work in education could not be more urgent. One in five Passaic County residents has not graduated from high school.

United Way's approach focuses on community resources and strong families in support of education - strategies and approaches rooted in research.

Together With Our Partners, United Way of Passaic County

  • Awarded mentoring grants to increase the number available mentoring opportunities for middle school and high school.
  • Provided grant support to after-school programs that provide safe spaces and increased educational supports for students.
  • Joined the Paterson Reads Coalition, adding United Way of Passaic County's resources to this effort to increase the number of Paterson students reading at grade level by third grade.
  • Offers the Pavese Scholarship in memory of Vincent D. Pavese, who served as President and Chief Professional Officer of UWPC until his death in 1993. Each year the Pavese family reviews applications and selects students who demonstrate a commitment to Mr. Pavese's values of education and community service.


The Financial Aid U program assists low-income and first generation college students and their families in identifying and accessing financial aid resources for post-secondary education.  In the program’s first year United Way is working with Paterson Public Schools, and the Guidance Department in particular, to deliver the services to Paterson students.  “Access to financial aid is critical for our youth, but unfortunately many of our high school students ‘convince’ themselves out of college because of the complexity of financial aid,” said CEO Mary Celis. “Financial Aid U will advise high school students on how to apply for the financial resources they need to achieve their dreams of higher education,” said Celis.

In addition to providing FAFSA filing assistance, Financial Aid U offers financial education workshops on a variety of essential topics related to college applications and budgeting for students.