The primary goal of the Heart of Illinois United Way’s new Success by Six initiative is to ensure that all children from birth to age six are healthy, safe, nurtured, and ready to succeed. As evidenced in our 2005 Community Assessment, education is one of the primary keys that will make this goal a reality.
Conducted by Bradley University’s Center for Business and Economic Research, the Community Assessment reviews data from a six-county region, including Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Marshall, Stark, and Putnam counties. Upon analysis of the Community Assessment findings, the Heart of Illinois United Way is focusing resources on multiple programs affecting education, including funding programs that provide effective early childcare and increase literacy among youth and adults. In Peoria County alone, more than 50 percent of the local student population is in the low-income bracket.
To address these needs, the Heart of Illinois United Way has formed Success by Six, a new community-based committee of public and private partners, working together to deliver solutions for children in the Peoria area. The program brings together community leaders, corporations, educators, advocates, and parents to develop initiatives tailored to children’s developmental needs in our community.
The Success by Six committee is dedicated to the collection of data and the development of research-based plans to achieve community change. Objectives have been established that focus on creating public awareness of early development issues, improving quality and access to services for young children, and working on public policy that supports the well being of children. As part of Success by Six, the Heart of Illinois United Way will be partnering with United Way of America, the Ad Council, and the local media to present Born Learning, an innovative public awareness campaign that helps parents, caregivers, and communities create quality early learning opportunities for young children.
Children are constantly learning, right from birth. Their early years are the foundation for growth and development, and what they learn during those years depends on the experiences they have each and every day. Parents and caregivers of young children understand this, yet many aren’t sure how to encourage early learning or feel they don’t have enough time to help their child succeed in school. In response, United Way of America has created the Born Learning campaign to create long-lasting community change in support of young children.
Born Learning has three cornerstones: awareness by providing important information about how young children learn; education through providing easy, fun action steps that parents, grandparents, and caregivers can use every day; and action by providing a visible platform for public policy.
How can parents, grandparents, and caregivers support learning? Since children learn in a variety of ways, Born Learning is putting research, products, and tools into communities. These tools are creating innovative ideas to help local children and inspire everyone who nurtures our youth. For more information on the Heart of Illinois United Way’s Success by Six initiative or Born Learning, visit www.hoiunitedway.org. IBI