The true makeup of California's poor doesn't jibe with common stereotypes. That's one of the takeaways of a new report by the nonprofit Campaign for College Opportunity and the Women's Foundation of California that looks closely at poverty in this state.

For many, the most surprising finding will be that nearly three-quarters of the state's low-income families are active in the labor force. That goes against prevailing notions that the poor choose not to work and would rather live on state aid. On the contrary, the report suggests, most of California's poor are trying.

The report, "Working Hard, Left Behind," cites a lack of education as the primary reason why poor working households don't earn enough to meaningfully better themselves.

California has the most low-income working parents who lack a college education of any state, the reports says. That lack of education translates into significantly lower earnings and underscores the necessity for communities to find educational opportunities for low-income workers and their children. Given that the demand for college-educated workers is expected to outpace supply in coming years, it would seem especially important that new measures be taken to transition low-income students into higher education with financial aid and adult education opportunities.

It helps to know that so many who qualify for that sort of aid are making an effort to contribute on their end.