United Way Suncoast operates and invests in local programs serving more than 100,000 children and youth (ages 0 – 17) throughout DeSoto, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas, and Sarasota counties. We work with and through a network of some 50 partner agencies across the region to achieve our community educational objectives:
- Early Literacy to ensure children surpass key school readiness and early grade-level reading benchmarks (ages 0 – 12)
- Youth Success to help ensure children graduate high school with the skills necessary to pursue postsecondary education or vocational training (ages 13 – 18)
UNITED WAY EDUCATION PROGRAMS
In addition to agency-based programs, United Way Suncoast directly manages specific programs to assist caregivers, providers, and community supports to help children on the Suncoast succeed:
This program pairs volunteer mentors to young students who need help reading. The Children’s Movement and United Way Suncoast, in conjunction with local and statewide partners and Carol and Barney Barnett, launched an initiative focused on engaging, training, and deploying volunteer Reading Pals in 15 Florida regions to increase the number of students who are reading at grade level by the end of third grade.
The Read on myON partnership provides all children from birth through eighth grade in Hillsborough County with access to more than 8,000 e-books. This program is expanding to serve children of Pinellas county as well. The goal of the myON partnership is to provide each child in our community with equitable access to the largest collection of enhanced digital books to encourage reading, increase literacy rates, and promote literacy throughout the region.
Faced with the high cost of child care, many low income households must choose between quitting their paying job to stay home with their child(ren) over the summer or leaving them with family or other unskilled child care. United Way’s Summer Care initiative ensures that low-income families have access to quality, education enriched summer child care while providing parents with financial literacy classes. In 2015, 589 children received scholarships, and 231 parents received financial education classes in which they learned about budgeting, dollar stretching, and credit/debt management. In addition, 166 children received individual tutoring through United Way Suncoast. Of those 96% had no summer learning loss and on average, participants increased reading ability by 8 months.
Summer Bridge Books
In addition, at the 29 Summer Care sites (Hillsborough, Pinellas and Sarasota counties) more than 2,800 children received Summer Bridge Books and spent 30 minutes each day engaged with the curriculum over the summer. Of students receiving the books, across all grades and sites, scores on the pre and post-tests increased by nearly 10%.