Since 1887, the United Way has brought various community leaders together to raise money for a multitude of public agencies. The first campaign in Denver (1888) raised $21,700, the equivalent of $563,000 today, for twenty-two local health and welfare agencies. Since then, the movement has spread across not just the United States, but around the world. The program was such a success in acting as a community-led support group (coordinating relief services, counseling and referring clients to the appropriate channels, making grants, etc.) that by 1948, more than 1,000 communities had established their own United Way organizations.
In 1995, I had the pleasure of chairing the Alameda County United Way campaign. It was such a good experience that I went on to chair the Northern Kentucky United Way campaign in 2000, served on the Board of Directors in Greater Cincinnati from 2001 to 2004, and I’m currently a member of the Tocqueville Society.
Parents are always trying to improve the education of their children, and recent research is placing a much larger importance on early education. A level of concern is rising in Kentucky, stemming from studies over the last year consistently reporting that more than, on average, around 50% of children entering kindergarten do not possess the rudimentary skills to be “ready”, as it’s defined by state standards. As Governor Steve Beshear has suggested, this adds more gravity to the “importance of quality early learning opportunities for all students.”
One opportunity for parents to provide such early learning opportunities is through the United Way Born Learning program. The program offers two modes of community improvement that support young children. The first is awareness and education, and Born Learning seeks to make this as simple and easy for a parent or caretaker/guardian of the child. The program offers easy ways for parents to utilize lessons learned in the latest developmental/educational research, both in a formalized setting and in everyday situations, and provides educational materials to alleviate the burden of parents who might not have time to craft the perfect lesson for their child.
The second is action outside of the home. Born Learning provides the tools and strategies for communities to educate their youth and develop outreach programs through a national grassroots network. They support initiatives all over the country by providing a visible public policy and action platform and mobilize national support for programs that reach the state level.
To read more or find a local United Way campaign, visit the United Way Born Learning website.