Holistic path to success for Delaware students

“Everyone you don’t want…we’ll take. We don’t care who you are, we’ll provide the resources.”

Three young people working with a laptop and notebooks at a table, smiling and engaged in their task. The setting appears to be a bright room with large windows.This is the mentality it takes to offer comprehensive training, education and life skills to youth according to Jacques Bowe, Senior Program Coordinator at Pathways to Success in Georgetown, Delaware.

The Pathways program offers a full range of high-school level education and job training opportunities to hundreds of students. And more than that, it gives students the opportunity to remove the barriers to success that prevent them from pursuing education and careers.

“Once students are enrolled, we provide all different kinds of resources,” says Bowe. “Whatever barrier, we try to rise to the occasion. Pathways means removing that barrier.”

This includes mental health treatment and dealing with issues at home such as drug use by parents and domestic violence. Students may have an incarcerated parent or legal challenges of their own. Pathways routinely helps students manage pregnancy and childcare so students can stay on track. Housing and food concerns are overcome by helping students navigate state and local social support systems, and when necessary, providing direct assistance. The staff routinely connects students with counselors and therapists for help processing traumas.

This sort of holistic approach requires an investment of effort and trust from both the program staff and students. Pathways prides itself on creating an atmosphere where students feel welcome. Students realize the Pathways team is there to help them, and they understand that they have the power to take responsibility for their own success.

“We’re invested, and once they’re here, they’re accountable,” says Bowe of his students. “We have a network of resources, but you need to change.” He adds that program staff need to be just as willing to accept changing circumstances and to turn on a dime. “I can have a lesson prepared, but then something comes up and we have to drop and triage.”

Everyone has the opportunity to succeed, and according to Bowe, no one should hesitate to act. “Time, whether you are rich or poor,” he says, “is the one thing you can’t afford.”

Founded in 2008, the Pathways program is active in schools across Delaware. The program has a 98% graduation rate, and a 96% placement rate in jobs and the military. Learn more at https://www.pathways-2-success.org/.


Michael Trupo is the deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Public Affairs.