Why is Early Learning So Critical?

When a young child enters kindergarten ready for school, there is an 82% chance that child will master basic skills by age 11, compared with a 32% chance for children who are not school-ready. In the 2022-2023 school year, only 31% of our children at our schools of focus entered kindergarten ready.

A child that does not read on grade-level by the end of 3rd grade is four times more likely to drop out of school. In the 2022-2023 school year, only 30% of 3rd grade students at our schools of focus tested as reading on grade-level.

Students who drop out of high school today become the struggling workers of tomorrow, those who move from low-paying job to low-paying job, are constantly struggling to support their families.

Increasing the national high school graduation rate to 90% would create over 65,000 new jobs, boosting the economy by as much as $10.9 billion.

How United Way Suncoast is Leading the Change

United We Learn is an initiative to ensure equity and access to early learning for all children. United Way Suncoast invests in and implements programming within attendance zones of selected Title I Elementary schools comprised of Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed (ALICE) households. We concentrate on ensuring children enter kindergarten ready to learn, ensuring school-age children have the supports they need, and reducing barriers families encounter.

United We Learn incorporates partnerships and intentional strategies to address the achievement gaps of students before they enter Kindergarten. Children who do not enter Kindergarten ready to learn are four times less likely to graduate from high school on time. By addressing mitigating factors that impede children’s success and investing in proven and innovative strategies, we can close these critical gaps before they follow children throughout their academic journey.

We follow a results first approach, setting clear and verifiable targets and design plans to achieve them. We are guided by the following fundamental principles:

  • People – We purposefully identify, discuss, and challenge all factors of inequity and the impact(s) they have on our community. We focus on individuals, rather than percentages.
  • Place – We are place based, concentrating on the attendance zones of individual schools in identified areas of need.
  • Policy – We actively engage in public policy advocacy to develop partnerships that include local, state, and federal governments – along with the private and nonprofit sectors.
  • Practice – We openly communicate and collaborate with partners, assessing changes, addressing gaps and removing barriers, together.

UWS has committed $8,453,000 to support 43 programs focused on Education across our five-county region from July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2025. Click here to learn more about our investments.

Click on a County below to access our interactive map to learn more about our investments and programs.


United Way Suncoast Led Programs

Quality Childcare Initiative

Supporting Key Early Learning Centers

United4Literacy Kits

Providing Tools to Elevate Kindergarten Readiness

Campbell Park Network For Early Learning

Facilitating Child Development in South St. Petersburg

The Big Plan

Uniting Community for 10 Title 1 Manatee Schools

Paraprofessional Support

Enhancing Classroom Instruction Time

Summer Care

Addressing the Summer Slide

Talk With Me Baby

The Talk With Me Baby campaign aims to increase the amount of positive language interactions babies in our communities experience. This will help them develop the foundation for entering kindergarten ready to learn, which sets them up for success in school and life.

Learn more


United Way Suncoast brings together people and resources to tackle complex issues and drive sustainable positive change to help our community thrive.

Improve the lives of children, families and
communities today.

Smiling young girl proudly holds a book in a classroom.

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