Propel America

Dear friends,

As classroom teachers and leaders of K-12 education systems, we came to understand that setting students up for success meant thinking beyond graduation rates. Every year, we saw students graduate with immense potentialand every year, too many of those students floundered. They had completed high school successfully, but were left without a viable, affordable pathway to a strong first job. They had been presented with a false choice: forgo income and accrue significant debt while pursuing a traditional 2- or 4-year degree; or forgo education for low-wage work without upward mobility.


At the same time, we came to know the people leading companies, community colleges, and high schools in the communities where we worked. We realized they held the power to build an affordable connection between high school graduation and a good first job. If done right, this connection could grow to scale in rural and urban communities alike. We founded Propel America to help make this possibility a reality.


Propel America links those high schools, companies, and community colleges to build pathways from high school graduation to an upwardly-mobile first job. We then empower students with the skills, experiences, credentials, and social networks necessary to use those pathways. We’ve begun piloting such routes to middle-skill jobs in healthcare and construction in Louisiana and South New Jersey. But our dream and charge extend nationwide. We believe local communities throughout our country will build these connections between high school graduates and prosperous life opportunities. So we have set out to develop a scalable, cost-effective model that can be used in any community, urban or rural, red or blue. We will connect young people to powerful opportunities and help employers build phenomenal teams.


We have a great deal to learn on this journey. You have already contributed to making it possible. We hope you will take a minute to learn more about our work. In the meantime, we couldn’t be more excited about pursuing this vision for what communities can achieve for the next generation of Americans.


John White, Chairman



Paymon Rouhanifard, CEO



Categories: Updates

1 Comment

Jesse · July 15, 2019 at 4:38 am

As a parent of an 18-year-old who graduated high school May, 27th this year. She graduated in the top 4% of her class, having taken 5 AP classes and her GPA is 4.33, so I would have to agree that the potential of our children and their children is great, and we must find a way to help our children understand REAL life. I realize the digital age is very much upon us, and there are plenty of STEM scholars, but that is NOT the only path, and either way, if you cannot communicate effectively or have interpersonal skills, no matter how much education you have will not matter.

It is my experience, that I noticed my child is/was seemingly a great student, but there is something missing. I tried and tried and tried to get help from the teachers, guidance and other staff at her school. They actually brushed me off SEVERAL times, as if I was over-reacting. All they saw was “a good student, with good grades and who is polite.” Yes, she is, and yes, you can check all your boxes, but what happend to shop class, and home economics class and teachers that give a damn? I agree we NEED to pay them what they are worth for starters. That might help. But, in my case, I have a child who is seemingly talented scholastically, but she can’t ride a bike or make her own hair cut appointment, and has no idea where to start because the focus for her was grades. I tried to tell her, the school and others and it went unheard.

I think what you are doing is awesome, and I do not know a lot about your project, but I would suggest, if you are not doing so, that we find a way to start at least the first year of high school, if not in middle school- teaching both STEM AND practical, real-life skills. These kids do NOT know how to get along in life, much less handle it on their own, with good coping and resourceful skills. Communication is very much lacking and that includes all people because they are buried in some digital device. Of course we all need to know these skills, and we need more of our kids in the leadership roles at the high-tech career fields, so ealry, accessible education is a must, but I maintain so is the basic, fundamental skills of knowing where to start, applying for scholarships, etc..not just telling them to go apply on the school homepage. That is not working because some kids- their “best grade kids” just simply may not know what they even mean.

I am in the generation that has 50,000 in student loan debt, because I had nobody to tell me, help me, and when I did go to CC apparently something went wrong. Paramedic and fire school does not cost 50,000.00 but mine did. There is so much corruption, and not enough people who want to help like you, that if we do not step up to the plate, and do the right thing, we may as well throw in the towel and become who knows.

My point is, this is great, and I hope more schools, at least in Florida and Oregon (I know of) get involved. But, I hope teacher’s and districts take notice that high school cannot be the end for these kids that give their all, only to be let go even when their parents are begging for help. Quest Bridge -if you know them, my child was 1 of 2 kids in the entire school and class I believe, that was chosen in the second round for a 4-year full tuition/room/all of it to 1 of about 35 schools. MIT, Berkley, So. Cal, and so forth. She was not chosen. Why? Not her SAT or ACT, she scored 1240 on SAT and 29 I tihnk on the ACT, so she scroed plenty high, it was the application. She did it with her teacher of all people. Because this teacher let her manipulate her into thinking her parents would not “do it for her” when we were trying to teach ehr not to wait until the night it is due. LITERALLY. Anyway-let’s hope our teacher’s either start doing their job or find a new one.

I tihnk you are doing a wonderful thing!
Jesse R.

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