Community Impact is a philosophy premised upon improving lives by mobilizing communities to create lasting and long term changes. This is done by achieving measurable results through strategies that focus on community systems and resources. The United Way has chosen education as a focal point for our Community Impact Initiative. Our goal is for 100% of students in Jo Daviess and Stephenson Counties to be considered "ready for kindergarten." This goal will help increase the number of students in our communities that are reading at grade level by third grade.
You may be wondering out of all the issues our communities are facing why is this so important? Research shows that if children are not able to read at grade level by third grade it has significant and long-term consequences not only for each of those children but for their communities, and for our nation as a whole.
If left unchecked, this problem will undermine efforts to end intergenerational poverty, close the achievement gap, and reduce high school dropout rates. Far fewer of the next generation will be prepared to succeed in a global economy, participate in higher education, or enter military and civilian service.
So, just how big is the problem? An alarming number of children—about 67 percent nationwide and more than 80 percent of those from low-income families—are not proficient readers by the end of third grade.
What is United Way doing to reverse these trends? United Way of Northwest Illinois has partnered with the All Our Kids Network, Freeport Housing Authority, Freeport School District, Freeport Public Library, and many other agencies to develop programs and tools to address the root causes that impact a child's ability to perform in the classroom.
To find out more about the programs and services associated wtih United Way's Community Impact Initiative contact our office at 815-232-5184.