Community Investment Teams fund educational programs based on the program’s ability to address target issues. These target issues measure: (1) Percentage of children who enter school with the vocabulary skills they need to learn to read. (2) Percentage of children who demonstrated improved standardized test scores in reading/math, improved academic performance and attendance rates.
Diverse volunteer ReadingPals are increasing the number of children reading at grade level. This UWCF Women’s Leadership Council initiative is funded by Carol and Barney Barnett, and is also being implemented in 10 school districts across the state. The goal is to have 500 ReadingPals in 12 Polk County schools by the end of 2015.
Students served by both Polk County Schools and United Way partner programs outperformed a comparison group of students who did not receive services funded by the United Way. Scores on FCAT in both reading and math were higher when students attended United Way funded programs, and school attendance was significantly higher in four of the five last years.
Language skills for children in literacy camps and Master Teacher programs improved an average of five months for every one month of participation. Children with age appropriate language skills learn to read, and have a better chance of passing their 3rd grade FCATs.
UWCF Master Teachers, with the support of early literacy partners including Polk County Schools, published and distributed “Word Play” a supplement for pre-K language development.
Through sponsorships, UWCF’s Success By 6 provides Parent Lending Libraries at child care centers serving at-risk children. This allows parents to check out books to take home and read one-on-one with their children.
1,424 children received 17,148 new books in the mail last year through the Imagination Libraries Initiative, thanks to local sponsorships.
Economic status is the #1 predictor of a child’s ability to succeed in school. Through related UWCF programs, the parents of children living in poverty in the tri-county area are learning how to find and maintain financial stability, learn to read, improve job skills, manage debt, and build savings while their children are helped to succeed in school through literacy initiatives.