Group pf 7 children playing outdoor sports, smiling, and having fun.

The Big Plan

Education changes the trajectory of a child’s life. Children who graduate high school earn nearly twice as much as a child without a high school diploma and children who read on grade-level by the end of third grade are four times more likely to graduate high school.

In the 2017-2018 school year there were 989 3rd grade students at 10 Title 1 Manatee Elementary Schools. 75%, 742 of students, tested as not reading on grade level by the end of 3rd grade. The Big Plan is a community partnership focused on cutting that number in half by 2026.

The 10 schools of focus were identified by the School District of Manatee County (SDMC) as consistently underperforming.

Central Manatee County North Manatee County South Manatee County
Ballard Palm View Daughtrey
Rogers Garden Blackburn Oneco
Manatee Palmetto Samoset (early adopter)

The attendance zones of these schools have the highest population of families in poverty or that fall into the ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) population in Manatee County.

How Will We Meet Our Target?

We will achieve our target through our investments, partnerships and collaboration; developing strategies and action plans focused on our children and families within the attendance zones of the 10 schools, while aligning with the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (SCGLR) pillars.

United Way Suncoast is the lead for the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading in Manatee County, an effort to help all children, especially those from ALICE families, succeed in school by ensuring they read on grade level by the end of third grade.


We invest in programming located in and/or serving children and families within the school attendance zones, with a focus on ensuring children enter kindergarten ready to learn (Birth through pre-kindergarten), children are reading on grade level by the end of 3rd grade (Kindergarten through Elementary School) and removing barriers, such as food insecurity.

UWS committed to investing $1.4M from 2022-2025 in 13 programs supporting early learning. Program support includes:

  • Educational summer camps to negate summer slide
  • Tutoring and after-school reading support
  • Fun parent-child learn & play classes and home visiting to develop early learning
  • Food pantries and fresh produce distributions
  • VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance)

UWS School Readiness Supports

Quality Childcare Initiative – In collaboration with the Early Learning Coalition, United Way Suncoast supports the key quality components of childcare at selected early childcare centers.

United4Literacy Kits – United4Literacy Kits were developed to be used in churches and other community spaces. Volunteers work with children on focused kits for children ranging from 3 through 2nd grade to build their early literacy and grade-level reading skills with games and fun activities.

The Big Plan LogoUWS In-School Supports

A Principals Fund was developed to address barriers  related to learning or to train/recognize staff at our Big Plan schools. All active Big Plan schools receive $1,000 per school year and remaining schools receive $500 per year.

UWS investing $264,400 to fund 8 Paraprofessionals positions in 1st grade classrooms at eight of the Big Plan schools to support selected cohort students throughout the 2023-2024 school year.


Our lead partners in The Big Plan include:


To learn more about The Big Plan, please reach out to Nicole Brown


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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