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A data specialist walks into a mentoring program

Laura Bush on how volunteering changed her and a community
March 5, 2021

Meet Laura Bush: professional research engineer, wife, mother, and active supporter of United Way—and the kind of woman for our future generations to aspire to.

Her desire to help young students and use data for social good drew Laura to her most recent position as the Manager of Data, Literacy and Analysis for Baltimore City Public Schools. There, she is working hard to “level the playing field for youth.”

“There is such a lack of opportunity for kids living in certain zip codes. I am making it my personal responsibility to help change that through data collection and analysis. Reviewing test and attendance data and learning how early intervention can help change the trajectory for students slipping through the cracks – that’s my goal: to give these kids the opportunities they deserve.”

Laura got involved with United Way more than 10 years ago, and her engagement includes work with United Way’s Women United group and its On Track 4 Success program, which makes extensive use of data to help students stay and succeed in school with the goal of graduating high school.

“My most meaningful experience at United Way is my recent involvement with the mentoring program for middle school girls at Maree G. Farring Elementary/Middle School in Southwest Baltimore. I was drawn to one young woman in particular. She was so quiet. Never participated. I wondered if I was making a difference. By the last session, she asked me if she could give me hug. It brought me to tears. I did make a difference in this young woman’s life and there’s no better feeling. That one moment defined my ‘why.’ This same student is attending Baltimore Polytechnic Institute this year. Now, I know the need beyond this one young lady is great. But if I could make such a difference in one person’s life, imagine what we could do as a community if we continued to focus on our youth – to chip away at the disparity, and level the playing field, one student at a time. How much brighter would our future look?”

Working with committed volunteers and supporters like Laura, United Way is breaking down barriers to disparity and making the future brighter for students, families, and individuals across Greater Baltimore.

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