Our Work in Education

Quality education helps youth and adults achieve their full potential

The Heart of Illinois United Way works to ensure that our children are ready to succeed when they enter kindergarten and people of all ages are prepared for work, postsecondary education and life. By preparing children to enter school and providing them ongoing resources throughout their education, they’ll be able to reach their academic and career potential.

United Way funds distributed to the Education Impact Area support programs focused on development and intervention, including:

  • Childcare and Pre-K Literacy
  • After School Programs
  • Tutoring and Mentoring
  • Adult Literacy
  • Special Education
  • Parent Engagement

United Way funded education programs provide . . .

  • Ages Pre-K through adult with literacy success
  • After school tutoring that leads to grade promotion
  • Mentoring that improves grades and social-emotional skills
  • Parenting skills that build healthy parent-child relationships

Here are just a few ways Heart of Illinois United Way funded programs are positively impacting education in central Illinois:

  • 88% of preschool students enrolled in United Way funded programs developed and maintained core skills in the areas of social-emotional learning, literacy and math
  • 86% of youth in United Way funded tutoring and after school programs achieved grade-level academic success in reading and math
  • 78% of parents of students enrolled in United Way funded tutoring and after school programs actively engaged in their child’s reading and math education
  • 95% of youth enrolled in United Way funded life-skills education programs positively changed their behaviors
  • 92% of adults 16 and older increased their knowledge through United Way funded academic and vocational training

Great Mentors Lead the WayPat Farrell of RLI and Aloisius are part of the Big Brothers, Big Sisters Lunch Buddies Program which focuses on school-based mentoring.

Pat Farrell of RLI and Aloisius are part of the Big Brothers, Big Sisters Lunch Buddies Program which focuses on school-based mentoring. “Littles” talk with their “Bigs” about classes, do homework, eat together or play in the gym. Teachers see students come back from their time with their “Big” filled with confidence and ready to learn. Heart of Illinois Big Brothers Big Sisters staff provide constant support to matches to ensure child safety and help matches form a trusting bond with each other. At the end of the day, it’s really all about starting a friendship, providing guidance, and inspiring them to reach their potential.

Put Students at the Head of the ClassOur work in education, with students, teachers and family members, FamilyCore ensures these students are at the head of their class by providing an opportunity to build camaraderie with fellow students, and to strengthen social-emotional skills in a fun and safe environment.

Children come to school with more than just their backpacks. They often bring along worries and anxieties. While the FamilyCore after school program at Lincoln K-8 in Peoria focuses on improving reading and math scores, the agency’s tutors also have the hard job of addressing the student’s social-emotional needs. Working with students, teachers and family members, FamilyCore ensures these students are at the head of their class by providing an opportunity to build camaraderie with fellow students, and to strengthen social-emotional skills in a fun and safe environment.

Make Education CountMake Education Count

Early math skills are one of the greatest predictors of future academic success. With increasing focus on STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math), early childhood math is the first step to obtaining higher education and future employment. To support school readiness, the Heart of Illinois United Way Success By 6 program works with local preschool programs to equip educators and families with strategies that build mathematical thinking skills at a young age.

Often, the most common approach to teaching early math skills is to focus on memorizing numbers alongside letters. However, learning to count by rote only teaches children number words and order, not number sense. That is why children at Tazewell Woodford Head Start are learning to sort and subitize (the ability to see a small amount and know how many there are without counting). The ability to subitize at a young age can lead to a better understanding of adding and subtracting; and children build scientific inquiry skills when they sort, compare, describe, and put things in order.

For a complete list of United Way Funded Education-Related programs, click here.

Our Education Initiatives

Success By 6 and S3 Help Children Achieve Academic Success

Our Success By 6 program focuses on preparing pre-school children to be ready for academic success when they enter kindergarten.The Heart of Illinois United Way funds two special initiatives under the Education Impact Area – Success By 6® and S3 (Supporting Student Success).

Our S3 initiative is a collaboration between public schools in Peoria and Tazewell counties and United Way partner agencies.Our Success By 6 program focuses on preparing pre-school children to be ready for academic success when they enter kindergarten.

Our S3 initiative is a collaboration between public schools in Peoria and Tazewell counties and United Way partner agencies. S3 focuses on improving academic achievement by providing in-school counseling and group support for substance abuse, violence prevention and mental health.

Click here to learn more about Success By 6
Click here to learn more about S3