What if you could change the trajectory of a child’s life by taking a few simple steps?
When you give a preschooler a picture book, help a parent teach their child to read, and read to a youngster just 30 minutes a week, you give the child so much more. These simple actions can create a domino effect to improve the lives of local students.
“When kids enter kindergarten ready to learn, they’re much more likely to read proficiently by third grade,” said Marci Zogg, vice president of community impact at United Way Quad Cities. “And third-graders who read on grade level are five times more likely to graduate from high school.”
Kindergarten readiness, third-grade literacy and high school graduation are all related. They’re milestones along a child’s path to success in their career, college or military.
Drivers to Success
Every stage of a child’s learning is linked. These education milestones reflect a child’s development and give us a glimpse into the future of our community at large. Education, along with income and health, is a key building block of opportunity — essential for all people and communities to thrive. And research shows that significant, lasting impact can be achieved for Quad Citizens if two things happen:
- The number of students reading on grade level by third grade increases by 30%
- And twice as many Black and Hispanic students hit a certain level of scholastic achievement
COVID has amplified obstacles and barriers to opportunities for children to succeed. But a better future isn’t only possible, it’s already on its way. We know education changes the world, so we’re investing in the early development of the next generation through the following programs and investments.
A child’s earliest experiences – before they even enter school – can determine their ability to succeed for the rest of their lives. Our Strong Start priorities promote quality child care, kindergarten readiness and childhood literacy. There are four parts to this effort:
- Born Learning Academies to give parents the instruction, resources and skills to help their young children thrive.
- Start Smart Quad Cities text service to give parents tools and tips to help their young child learn anywhere.
- Over $500,000 in investments in 9 local Implementing Partners to provide free or affordable programs that promote safe and healthy environments, kindergarten readiness and early childhood literacy this year.
“There are so many kids who show up at kindergarten who could have benefited from early childhood intervention services,” said Ashley Hicks, director of United Way’s Women United donor network. “All the efforts of Women United reflect our belief that parents are experts on their children.”
Women United members raise funds and volunteer to equip parents to support their children through the most critical stages of brain development. Most parents don’t realize that 80% of brain development happens in a child’s first three years and 90% of the brain is developed by the time a child is 5 years old, which is where parent education and empowerment comes in.
“We want parents to understand the impact they can have on their child’s success, and that starts with early intervention if needed, quality child care and kindergarten readiness,” Hicks says.
You can get involved to support United Way’s work in education. Here are a few ways to be help our youngest Quad Citizens achieve now and in the future: