By DONNA OSUCH
OF WEST CENTRAL CONNECTICUT
United Way: The United Way of West Central Connecticut, which serves to communities of Bristol, Burlington, Plainville, Plymouth and Terryville, is working to change the world by focusing on the building blocks of a good life for everyone – Education, Income and Health. Today, we will explore how United Way is having an impact on Education.
When people hear the word “education,” it can mean very different things, depending on their background and what’s currently important to them. For instance, a mom might think “education” is about getting her toddler ready for school. Or the parent of a middle school student might think about how their child is not engaged with school and is falling through the cracks. Or a high school student might want to educate his peers on subjects they don’t always cover in the classroom – reckless driving, suicide prevention, and how to be a leader.
With so many different ways to look at the word “education,” you might wonder which one describes what United Way is doing? The answer is – All of the above… and more!
United Way has “Born Learning,” which is a public engagement campaign that helps parents, grandparents and caregivers of young children explore ways to turn everyday moments into fun learning opportunities.
United Way has the “Discovery Initiative,” which is a state-wide initiative we have been involved with since 2001 to help ensure that all children enter kindergarten healthy and ready to learn. This includes the Early Childhood Blueprints in Bristol and Plymouth, where we’ve created community plans with multiple partners to ensure that every single child is ready and able to succeed both in school and in life.
We started the “Kids in the Middle (KIM) Program,” which is a United Way and community initiative that helps middle school students successfully transition to high school and young adulthood. The goal of this partnership is to provide students with meaningful experiences and connect them with caring adults and the community.
Finally, we run the “United Way Youth Board,” which is a group of students from six of our regin’s high schools. This group comes together to assess the issues that affect our teens, prioritize the projects they should undertake and formulate a plan to accomplish their goals and make the greatest impact.
So United Way doesn’t just focus on one part of education – we look at the critical transitions for youth and try to see where there are gaps in the community, so we can fill those gaps with initiatives like the ones mentioned above. But we also fund other local non-profits that focus on education, such as Bristol Preschool, Bristol Family Resource Centers, Plainville Day Care Center, the Plymouth Family Resource Center, and others.
By funding programs at local non-profits, while also running community-level initiatives, United Way is able to have a real, lasting impact on the education of our children.
Would you like to help United Way change the world by supporting our work in Education? Simply log onto our website to make a donation today and earmark your investment toward Education :http://www.uwwestcentralct.org/donate
This is the third column in an eight-week series from United Way of West Central Connecticut’s president and CPO, Donna Osuch.