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:
- 83% of preschool children demonstrated the literacy skills needed for school readiness
- 82% of preschool children demonstrated math skills needed for school readiness
- 88% of youth achieved academic success in essential reading and math skills
- 93% of adults who obtained tutoring or went back to school increased their literacy skills
- 95% of parents increased their parenting and life skills
Great Mentors Lead the Way
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 Class
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.
Poverty, preschool attendance, and parenting behaviors are important influences on school readiness. Children with higher levels of school readiness at age 5 are more successful in school, less likely to drop out, and more likely to earn more income as adults. Low-income children tend to be less ready for school due to lack of access to resources needed for healthy development, significant parental stress, residing in challenging neighborhoods or relocating often.
Did you know?
The Heart of Illinois United Way invests more than $450,000 annually in early childhood education for low-income students and more than $200,000 in parenting education.
From birth to age six, children’s brains develop rapidly and early learning is crucial for laying the groundwork for future academic success. Early childhood programs initiate cognitive and character-building skills, prepare students for Kindergarten, teach social-emotional skills, and begin to form a solid foundation of literacy and math skills. In addition, parental involvement is a critical predictor of student success and United Way is now asking funded programs to be intentional about engaging parents/guardians in their children’s education and measuring the impact.
- If you give $3 a week, you can provide a new book for every student in three preschool classes that includes educational activities for school and home.
Make 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.
Healthy parent involvement is critical for child development and success in school. In programs funded by the Heart of Illinois United Way, at-risk parents benefit from one-on-one interventions, parenting classes, and support to strengthen parenting skills that are vital to healthy relationships and children’s success.
Did you know?
- If you give $3 a week, you can provide four weeks of intensive in-home visits and parenting education to first-time, at-risk parents to reduce child abuse/neglect and promote healthy childhood development.
Support Along the Way Caps off a Great Education
The Heart of Illinois United Way funds early childhood, mentoring, tutoring, afterschool and in-school counseling programs? All of these provide the support needed to achieve graduation. These students from Quest Charter Academy benefit from a grant from our S3 (Supporting Student Success) initiative that provides counseling services, professional development for teachers, and an anger management program for students.
Students participating in after-school programs have better school attendance, improve their reading and math grades, and are more likely to graduate. Youth who have mentors possess higher self-esteem and confidence which leads to healthier relationships, better attitudes toward school, and higher rates of college enrollment.
Did you know?
The Heart of Illinois United Way invests more than $740,000 annually in after-school and mentoring programs for children and youth. These after-school and mentoring programs improve attendance and school engagement, academic success, and graduation rates. They also improve social-emotional skills and decrease the likelihood of engagement in risky behaviors, such as drug/alcohol use and behavioral incidents.
- If you give $20 a week, you can provide a semester of after-school tutoring for an at-risk student.
Our Education Initiatives
Success By 6 and S3 Help Children Achieve Academic Success
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.
United Way Education Programs at Work
To see United Way funded education programs at work visit our YouTube channel.