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Education & Workforce Innovation In Disadvantaged Communities

By Subha Ali

What Are Disadvantaged Communities & How Do They Connect To Education & The Workforce?

Disadvantaged communities are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by economic, health, and environmental burdens. These communities are underserved and marginalized through schooling, safety, targets of gentrification, and losing their homes.

The director of special education at Summit Schools, Sana Tariq, states, "Students in disadvantaged communities are not aware of all the resources that exist that are meant to help them find high-paying jobs in the workforce."

The Problem That Is Faced &

Is Overlooked

Tariq states five problems that occur for people from disadvantaged communities. The first problem in disadvantaged communities is that they do not know how to access the resources for competitive jobs and colleges or the education necessary for the workforce.

Tariq says, "They don't have the network to hustle and get higher paying jobs or internships, and they don't know how to leverage educational resources that are available to them such as grants, scholarships, and funds available from churches; another example is they don't know they can talk to a college admission advisor ahead of time."

The second problem is that they need to be made aware of the unspoken standards of professionalism expected in a job interview or the job itself. Tariq explains a situation she encountered, "a teacher's assistant quit to go to college, and I asked her if it was a two-week notice. And she asked me what a two-week notice is. She had no idea about the rules that are expected to follow; she was the first member of her family to graduate high school." Those not educated about the workforce need to learn simple rules of behavior and conduct accordingly, such as giving a two-week notice.

The third problem is that many people from disadvantaged communities who are going into the workforce do not know how to write a resume or know anyone who can help them. When they write one without help, it is not in the correct form; many write a list of jobs they've done, which leads them not to get a call back from jobs.

The fourth problem is that students do not know how to fill out a FAFSA form or how to apply for a scholarship, which can lead to them not being able to further their education.

Lastly, Tariq says, "If you're a person with a disability, you don't know that there is the IDEA law that exists as a protection, and you can ask for those protections in your workplace."

The Changes That Are Needed &

Must Be Made

There needs to be a change for people who come from disadvantaged communities. One step Tariq states is, "There are some schools, especially charters, who are beginning to dive into this work, but it is not common, and it needs to be offered at every school across the country or at least at every high school in disadvantaged neighborhoods, and ideally there should be funding available for that."

Next, from an educator's standpoint, Tariq says, "You have to hold events for families and students that outline clearly what local supports look like, how to access those supports, and provide help accessing those supports for students whose families aren't literate."

Lastly, people outside of education or who don't have a relationship with the school systems can watch out for local events held by schools and volunteer their time. To ensure events are held, you can start them at a local school by talking to the school board.


Students from disadvantaged communities need to know how to access the correct resources to help them succeed in their education and the workforce.

Changes need to be made to make resources available and help lead them to the resources available to set them up to succeed.

External Resources

Sana Tariq: Director of Special Education at Summit Public Schools

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