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Education Benefits Kids and Communities

Education is a cornerstone for success in school, work and life. It also benefits the whole community: High school graduates have higher earning potential, contribute more to their local economies, are more engaged in their communities, and are more likely to raise kids who also graduate, and go on to higher education or work.

United Way is about more than short-term charity for a few; we’re about lasting solutions that build opportunity for all. We look at the big picture to assess which resources are lacking or need strengthening, then we address those gaps to keep kids on track to graduation and beyond.

Through the work of initiatives such as Born Learning—which helps parents, grandparents and caregivers turn everyday moments into fun, educational opportunities for young kids—the nearly 1,800 United Ways in more than 40 countries and territories worldwide are bringing millions of people together to solve the education puzzle and build stronger communities.

Born Learning

Everyday life is a learning experience for children. Born Learning is a public engagement campaign that helps parents, grandparents and caregivers explore ways to turn everyday moments into fun learning opportunities.

About Early LearningLearning on the GoGet Involved

Help make a difference in your community on these issues—whether that's through dollars, your time or your voice. Only by working together can we help all children unlock their full potential.

Success Stories

  • Early Learning

    The first few years in a child’s life offer unparalleled opportunities for learning. That’s why United Way has been driving early childhood education improvements, through efforts like Born Learning and Bright Beginnings, a local initiative that's helping parents and caregivers foster kids’ natural curiosity and nurture a love of learning. The endgame? Ensuring these kids start school equipped to succeed, which translates to success later on in both work and life.

    United Way Bright Beginnings in Houston, TX
    Imagine 800 elementary school children who perform better than their peers on 45 out of 51 achievement tests. Now imagine that most of those same 800 children are from low-wage, at-risk families—many of them led by a single teenage parent, and many of them struggling with homelessness and domestic abuse. 

    How have these students managed to consistently beat the odds? The answer is United Way Bright Beginnings, an innovative early childhood education program launched in 2002 by United Way of Greater Houston. With vital support from partners, the program has expanded to 18 childcare centers across Houston, and they’re sharing their recipe for success with other communities.

    Learn more about United Way Bright Beginnings at United Way of Greater Houston.

  • Read Well from the Start

    Reading is a critical bridge to success in school, work and life. Until third grade, children are generally learning to read; by fourth grade, however, they should be reading to learn. At the fourth grade level, coursework gets harder and reading becomes more challenging. Students who don’t read well have increasing difficulty keeping up—which can lead to bad grades, disengaging from school, and dropping out. That’s why United Way is creating, leading supporting efforts to help young kids build that strong foundation. Almost 100 United Ways are fueling local efforts that are part of The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.

    Beacons of Hope in Twin Cities, MN
    Randa Ayoub is a successful college graduate working at Beacons, an out-of-school-time program launched in 1998 with the support of Greater Twin Cities United Way. Fifteen years ago, however, Randa was a fourth grader struggling to find a place for herself in her school and her community until she became one of the first children to enroll in Beacons. Generous support from corporate partners has now helped nearly 33,000 children benefit from Beacons and other United Way out-of-school-time programs. Research shows that quality out- of-school-time programs noticeably improve several key markers of academic and long-term success, including school attendance, grads and test scores. Like Randa, these children are on track to grow up and give back, as the teachers, doctors, engineers and leaders of tomorrow.

    Learn more about Beacons of Hope and other out-of-school-time programs.

  • Successful Transition to Middle School

    Middle school is where the rubber meets the road. Many disadvantaged children begin to fall behind, and greater levels of truancy and behavior problems lead to out-of-school suspension. That’s why United Way is working to implement dropout prevention efforts as early as middle school. Research shows that students' readiness for college and career can be boosted with focus on middle school activity. Through partnerships with programs such as Achievers for Life, United Way is leading the effort to engage parents, support families and mentor students. The results? Significantly higher GPAs, fewer suspensions and fewer failing grades in math and language arts classes—all indicators of educational success further down the line.

    Achievers for Life in Jacksonville, FL
    At-risk students transitioning into sixth grade tend to see their absentee rates go up and their test scores go down. Middle schoolers enrolled in United Way of Northeast Florida’s Achievers for Life initiative are reversing that trend. Among these students, severe absenteeism decreased by 91 percent, multiple suspensions decreased by 79 percent, the number of students with a D or F in English decreased by 67 percent, and the number of students with a D or F in math decreased by 74 percent. Achievers for Life isn’t charity; it is lasting change that benefits everyone. In 2008, dropouts represented a $1.2 billion loss for the economy of Northeast Florida. This is why the great work of mentors and donors produces results that go far beyond one child, and far beyond one community.

    Learn more about Achievers for Life.

  • Graduate High School

    High school graduation is a major milestone on the path to successful adulthood. Over their lifetimes, high school graduates earn 74% more than those who drop out. High school graduation is the single most powerful predictor of whether a young person coming from generations of poverty will break the cycle. United Way works to combat the dropout crisis through key partnerships, such as those with America’s Promise and Ready by 21, to ensure that students graduate high school on time and are prepared to succeed in higher education.

    Graduating Our Future in Winston-Salem, NC
    In only five years, the Graduating Our Future initiative implemented by United Way of Forsyth County and its community partners has already yielded impressive results. At Parkland Magnet High School—the school that once had the lowest graduation rate in Winston-Salem, the graduation rate has increased by 16.2 percent, and the community at large has seen an increase of more than 11 percent in its graduation rate. Nearly 70 percent more students at the high school are now passing end-of-course tests, and the number of students passing end-of-grade tests has doubled at Philo-Hill Magnet Academy, a middle school that feeds Parkland High School. Graduating Our Future has clearly demonstrated that increasing tutoring, family engagement, counseling and mentoring opportunities for at-risk students can make a real difference. Now United Way of Forsyth County is taking these proven methods and expanding them to other schools.

    Learn more about Graduating Our Future at United Way of Forsyth County.

  • Education Worldwide

    United Way delivers on its education promises in a variety of ways around the world. From providing books for classrooms or modular schools in remote areas in South Africa to educating society about child safety in Hungary, to providing corporate-sponsored mentoring and internship programs in Guatemala, United Way creates opportunities for a better life for all. 

    Kids are Choosing School Over the Streets in Poland
    Since 2008, people have been reaching out through United Way Poland to help create opportunities for youth in poverty. Many of these young people have abandoned the classroom to spend their days on street corners and in empty parking lots. Joining forces with community partners, United Way Poland is giving at-risk kids the skills and confidence they need to reclaim their futures. From providing school supplies and books, to granting micro-scholarships, to offering special learning centers where kids can explore special interest classes like science and photography, hundreds of children have benefitted from the encouragement and support that United Way Poland has provided to help keep them engaged in and enjoying school. None of this would be possible without an actively involved community. That’s why United Way Poland is also committed to expanding awareness through media campaigns and family outreach. As a result, United Way’s mission to put these kids back on the road to success is now shared by government, academia, private companies, schools, parents, media and more than 30 other non-governmental organizations.

    Learn more about how United Way Poland is giving kids a second chance at success in school and in life.

Common Good Forecaster

See how one positive change in your community ripples outward to benefit everyone.

Common Good Forecaster