Recent data from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board shows that only about 15% of economically disadvantaged 8th graders in Tarrant County go on to earn a two or four year degree or credential within 6 years of graduating high school, while Texas 2036 estimates that 71% of Texas jobs will require some kind of postsecondary credential by 2036.  Improving our education-to-workforce pipeline is not only the right thing to do to create more opportunity for the students and families in our local community, but it is critically important to securing the future health of our local economy.

In the Fall of 2023, the T3 Partnership hosted a reception to announce the launch of its workforce platform, T3 Pathways to Careers (P2C), with the ultimate goal of addressing this issue of connecting more students to career opportunities.  This innovative tool is a digital, interactive portal designed in partnership with the Fort Worth Mayor’s Council on Education and Workforce Development and local school districts to simplify and boost the way students and families explore and access career pathways beginning in middle school.  P2C has the unique ability to bridge the gap between students’ interests and goals, current school offerings, and local career opportunities across Tarrant County.  P2C will complement T3’s core program model by providing a tailored experience for Tarrant County students to chart a tangible, individualized plan for achieving their dreams as they move from middle school to high school and beyond.  

This solution to better connecting our K12 systems to the workforce was informed by students, parents, and educators through focus groups held during the original program design phase of T3.    A resounding theme quickly emerged in those feedback sessions around the desire and need for students to be connected in a meaningful way to local workforce opportunities and career pathways.  We heard from several senior students in Fort Worth ISD who made comments like, “I don’t really know what is out there… I wish we could see and learn about jobs in the real world.”   Parents stressed the desire for simple, streamlined communication from schools outlining what steps they need to take leading up to graduation.  And educators discussed how student success seemed to improve when students understood what they were working towards – ultimately landing a job that provides the lifestyle they want for themselves and their future families. 

More than 300 business, education, workforce, community and city leaders attended the event held at the Tarrant County College Trinity River Campus.  The energy in the room was evident as this diverse group of leaders engaged in discussions on aligning efforts to support Tarrant County students to eventually bolster our local workforce.  Mike Berry of Hillwood captured this sentiment, stating, “T3 Pathways to Careers is a groundbreaking approach to scaling the workforce pipeline. It is contributing to an educational ecosystem that is informed by immediate workforce needs and connecting qualified graduates who are eager to work for our region’s employers. We must prepare for the future workforce demand today.” 

P2C promises to not only directly benefit the students and families that T3 serves, but also ensure that the local business community is connected to the wealth of qualified talent in their own backyard.

Natalie Young Williams, Executive Director of T3, addressed the crowd, stating, “T3 aims to ensure that each student has the training and skills they need to thrive in today’s workforce. Seeing the impact our core program model has made in school districts across Tarrant County, we wanted to expand our reach so every student has equal access to identifying their best-fit pathway.”

This tool was made possible by a generous gift of $750,000 from JPMorgan Chase, who also lent their Force for Good team, a group of JPMorgan Chase software engineers, to help develop P2C and expand the platform’s accessibility, including enhanced navigation and bi-lingual content in Spanish.  JPMorgan Chase should also be recognized for their historic gift of $3M over the last three years to support the launch of T3 in its initial efforts. 

The development and launch of the T3 Pathways to Careers marks a significant milestone in advancing T3’s mission to build clear pathways and bright futures for all Tarrant County students.

T3 Overview

The Tarrant To and Through Partnership (T3) was launched in 2020 and exists to help more students in our community achieve success after graduating high school.  While success may look different from student to student, we know that earning an industry certification or college degree ultimately leads to higher wages and the path to a thriving career. Additionally, earning these post-secondary credentials has a significant economic impact not only on the individual student, but their entire family and the broader community and economy.  T3 provides a continuum of tangible supports and resources to help students and their families plan, pursue, and persist in post-secondary pathways starting early in their educational career. 

T3 currently serves all comprehensive high schools in Fort Worth ISD, both high schools in Crowley ISD, Castleberry ISD, and Arlington Lamar High School.   The core programming is delivered in partnership with the Texas Christian University (TCU) College Advising Corps by placing college and career advisors inside local schools to help students understand what opportunities exist after high school and what steps they need to take to leverage these opportunities.  Additional supports include financial aid completion, application and enrollment support, summer bridge programming, scholarships, and emergency funding. 

If you would like to learn more about RCF’s partnership with T3, please check out our 2021-2022 Annual Report.

Discover all the areas we serve and our program funding priorities by visiting our website.