Rene Santos, Northern Virginia 2018

Rene Santos was confused. He was all over the place. He didn’t know what his future would hold. Then he found Urban Alliance.

“Before that I was just everywhere,” Rene said. “I wanted to do a whole bunch of things but at the same time I didn’t want to… I wasn’t organized and Urban Alliance, they helped me get really organized… They teach you how to move around the world and get you used to doing things on your own.”

Through Urban Alliance, Rene was placed in his first professional job at Evolent Health, where he immediately connected with his mentor Myra. Both Latinx, Rene and Myra bonded over the experiences they shared growing up in similar backgrounds and spent a lot of time talking about his future. Seeing someone who grew up like he did go on to made Rene realize that he could do the same.

“I could see it’s very possible to do,” Rene said. “It made me realize it’s not out of my range.”

Rene also gained a new perspective on adulthood, and the skills and knowledge he would need to be successful post-high school.

“It gives people a great opportunity of seeing how the world works. In school we’re not taught how the world really works. We’re not taught about taxes, we are not taught about college, and student loans they’ll give you, and the interest, and stuff like that. They don’t teach you about the professional world, how to act, dress, none of that. They just teach you math, English, social studies, until they’re like, ‘bye-bye,’” Rene said. “But with Urban Alliance, they teach you and they let you know about all these things that are so useful and may be so small if you think about it, but have such big impacts in the long run, especially when you’re just fresh out of high school in the real world.”

Rene graduated in 2018 and is taking a year off to save money before starting his college education. Urban Alliance helped connect him to a job with a career ladder during his gap year that he can hold onto even when he starts classes. Urban Alliance also inspired his future career goals, to give back to his community by guiding young people like him who are searching for their path in life.

“It means a lot to me, for real. if I was ever to do big things in the future, I’ll definitely give a lot of credit back to Urban Alliance,” Rene said. “A lot of high schoolers I met and still meet now, they’re like, ‘I’m graduating. I really don’t know what to do.’ My best suggestion is, look towards Urban Alliance.”