Working Hard, Left Behind

Education as a pathway from poverty to prosperity for working Californians


Working Hard, Left Behind: Education as a pathway from poverty to prosperity is a new report commissioned by The Campaign for College Opportunity, in partnership with the Women’s Foundation of California and Working Poor Families Project.  The report details the economic state of California’s low-income adults and finds that low educational attainment is the one common characteristic of the working poor. 

The report calls this inequity both a social justice and economic imperative. Economic security should not be out of reach for people who are working hard when higher education can be a viable pathway from poverty to prosperity. But there must be a will for reform and investment in the state’s higher education system. If left unaddressed, the state’s future outlook is threatened. 

Download any of the following documents related to the report:

pdficon_large.gif Full Report  pdficon_large.gif Executive Summary  pdficon_large.gif Infographic  pdficon_large.gif Download Social Media Toolkit 

 pdficon_large.gif Webinar PowerPoint 

View the webinar below which reviews key findings and recommendations of the report

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The economic state of California's low-income families:



  • 1 in 3 of the 4 million working families in California are considered low-income.
  • Of the 1.87 million low-income families in the state, 73% are a part of the labor force.
  • Nearly half are without a high school diploma or GED.
  • 60% have no postsecondary education.
  • 40% of all children under the age of 18 in California, are in working low-income families.




The pathway to prosperity:

The report considers the following policy and programmatic areas key to a comprehensive strategy to help struggling adults achieve economic prosperity. 



  • Adult education and basic skills education
  • Community college access and completion
  • Federal funding, including Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, Workforce Investment Act funds, and Pell Grants
  • Financial aid for working adults or non-traditional students
  • Student supports, including guidance counseling and orientation through college
  • Child care
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