SDMC Honors United Way Suncoast

The Manatee County School District honored United Way Suncoast and Chief Impact Officer Bronwyn Beightol at Tuesday’s school board meeting.

Superintendent Cynthia Saunders presented Bronwyn and several members of the United Way Suncoast education team with the “Gratitude Award”  in recognition of the organization’s continued dedication and support to the school district of Manatee County. Sheila Halpin, the school district’s Campaign for Grade-Level Reading coordinator, joined the celebration.

Also in attendance from United Way Suncoast: Andrea Doggett, Senior Director, Education; Jessica Maxon-Berrier, Senior Specialist, Community Engagement; Astride Kovacik-Weis, Manager, Education and Community Outreach; Ana Rodriguez, Manager Education.

“I am so very proud of the way you all give your best to ensure the future for our children and families,” Bronwyn said of the Education Team’s efforts. “You all rock. Thank you for your leadership.”

In 2017, Bronwyn and United Way Suncoast were on the ground floor of a collaborative effort to meet the demands of a community that overwhelmingly sought improvement to the K-12 education system. Guided by United Way’s traditional role as a convener, she brought together a wide array of stakeholders to help create what would eventually emerge as the Suncoast Campaign For Grade-Level Reading.

That initial effort helped spur a number of initiatives and led United Way Suncoast to create the first of two reading rooms in the La Mirada community.

Now the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading has grown into a regional effort guided by The Patterson Foundation in Manatee, Sarasota, DeSoto and Charlotte counties. United Way Suncoast continues to lead the campaign in Manatee, and its ongoing efforts include The Big Plan, a dedicated focus on 10 Title 1 schools that seeks to double the number of students reading on level by the end of third grade.

In recent years, United Way Suncoast has added a second reading room at Bradenton Village, and infused the literacy effort with the addition of paraprofessionals. United Way Suncoast started the 2022-23 school year by increasing its funding for paraprofessionals from five to eight. These educators support first grade teachers by working individually with students who may be trailing behind classmates.

United Way Suncoast works to help children and ALICE families thrive through a focus on financial stability, youth success and early learning. In Manatee, the early learning focus includes the reading rooms, The Big Plan, the Campaign For Grade-Level Reading, United4Literacy Kits and the Quality Childcare Inititiative. To learn more, click here.

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