Middlesex United Way: Global Results Snapshot examines early learning

MIDDLETOWN — United Way Worldwide has made some great progress in the area of education, and last week announced its Global Results Snapshot highlighting how United Way programs support school readiness through a focus on early childhood education.

United Ways throughout the nation have impacted nearly 400,000 children and achieved some incredible results.

Over 77 percent of students achieve developmental milestones last year, and 68 percent of kindergartners ranked as “proficient” in their readiness assessments. In all, 88 percent of students improved their school attendance, and over 45,000 staff were trained to offer a higher-quality curriculum. Nearly 80,000 volunteers contributed to this success, and over 5,400 United Way community partners joined the fight for childhood success.

“United Way believes that children deserve a strong start in life,” said Mary Sellers, U.S. president and CEO of United Way Worldwide. “We strive to make that possible by empowering parents to support their kids, improving the quality of their learning environments, and offering solutions to challenges outside the classroom.”

We at Middlesex United Way are proud of the collective successes that United Ways has achieved, including our own local success. Our vision is that all of our local students should succeed academically. Our goals within our education work have expanded to three areas. We focus on early childhood education, as well as third-grade reading and college and career readiness.

To make this goal a reality, we support local programs and organizations that help foster academic success. Our school readiness initiative is working with school systems, early child-care providers, and parents throughout Middlesex County to identify and assist our youngest children who have social and emotional problems — before they enter school.

Last year, 106 Middletown preschoolers with social and emotional concerns received a consultation to ensure they were prepared for kindergarten, getting them a good start in school and improving their chances of graduating on time. We also support programs that assist young children to become school ready, while also educating their parents about the important role they play in their child’s earliest years.

Middlesex United Way is also a national partner in the Born Learning initiative, which provides simple activities and ideas to create learning opportunities throughout the day with your child. One of the key tools of Born Learning is the trails, which can be installed in any public setting.

If you have younger kids, visit one of the 10 Born Learning Trails in Middlesex County. A Born Learning Trail provides young children with an opportunity to get active, have fun and boost language and literacy skills. The trail features age-appropriate, simple-to-construct activities that can be easily followed with the help of an adult. For a list of area locations, visit middlesexunitedway.org/content/bornlearning.

With school right around the corner, we encourage you to get involved in our work and learn more about the resources offered in Middlesex County. Please visit middlesexunitedway.org/education. We wish everyone the best of luck this school year!

Kevin Wilhelm is executive director and CEO of the Middlesex United Way in Middletown.