Growing up on the South Side, Arnetta watched her mom struggle to put food on the table for the family of seven. She vowed she wouldn’t live on welfare as an adult.

That determination took her to Columbus State after high school. But as her debt climbed, she quit college to work and keep from falling further behind. Sometimes that meant working two, even three, low-paying jobs. Still barely making ends meet, she grew tired of watching better jobs pass her by. Arnetta tried to go back to college, but again life got in the way when she had difficulty balancing school, work and her family.

After seeing an E3 brochure that declared “Lives Get Changed Here,” Arnetta decided to try one more time. Before long, she had quit her dead-end job and was enrolled again at Columbus State. This time, thanks to the E3 program developed by United Way’s Women’s Leadership Council, she got her diploma.

The E3 program was designed to help women like Arnetta become “educated, empowered and elevated” to a new level of financial stability. During the intensive 16-week program, Arnetta was matched with a mentor who provided support, encouragement and advice, and connected her to multiple resources.

There were still obstacles—childcare issues, car repairs and times she struggled to pay her utility bills. Through it all, E3 and her WLC mentor had her back and kept her moving forward. Today, Arnetta is armed with an associate’s degree and headed toward her bachelor’s degree in web development.

“I’m ready – whatever opportunities come my way, I’m ready,” Arnetta declares. “Never again am I going to apply for a job and not be qualified.”

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