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Debra Burton

District 1199C Training & Upgrading Fund

Debra's Story

At age 18, Debra Burton, a single mother, dropped out of high school. A resident of North Philadelphia—where opportunities for advancement were scarce—she found a job as a nursing aide. Looking to advance in her career, she began searching for a way to translate her years of on-the-job training with a recognized credential.

At age 40, Debra found a little known non-profit fund that proved to be the key to advancement: the District 1199C Training & Upgrading Fund. This creative approach enabled Debra to enroll in a behavior health technician program and obtain an associate’s degree. The program reimbursed her tuition and arranged additional tutoring. At age 51, armed with a college degree, Debra secured a much better-paying job in the North Philadelphia Health System. She is the first in her family to obtain a college degree, and she continues to give back by mentoring others in her community.