Our Work in Education: Northwest Suburban United Way

  A few weeks ago was my 10-year high school reunion.   After getting over the initial shock that I graduated high school 10 years ago, because really it only feels like 5, I started to think about all the things I’ve accomplished in those 10 years.   The highlights include: getting my bachelors degree, obtaining steady, reliable employment, purchasing my first home, purchasing my first car, getting married, and selling my first home in order to purchase my second home with my husband. In some parts of the Northwest Suburbs and Skokie Valley, more than 50% of 11th graders are not meeting ISAT performance criteria in reading and math.   What if I was one of those students and decided to drop out of school 11 years ago, what would my life look like?   Would my list of accomplishments look different?   Would it take me longer to compile a list like the one I have? This year, I can give someone else the gift of creating a list, like the one I’ve created for myself.   Through New Year. Bright Future. my gifts this holiday can help kids enter school ready to succeed and ensure that middle school students transition to high school successfully.   United Way’s Education Initiative supports programs such as Dream Maker’s Program at the Greater Wheeling Area Youth Outreach where students who are performing below grade level, particularly in reading and math, will receive additional assistance in an after school program.   The goal is for students in this program to enter high school not needing to take prep level math and reading courses, putting them on track with the rest of their peers.   Not only do the students receive homework and tutoring assistance, they also receive a healthy snack and 25-minutes of game time, which includes positive   mentoring while playing card games, pool, ping pong, foosball, air hockey and/or video games.   At the end of the evening, students are taken to their doorstep by the staff at Greater Wheeling Area Youth Outreach, ensuring they get home safely. This is just one of many programs that prepare students to enter high school ready to succeed.   Other programs, like FIND at Palatine Opportunity Center with The Center Resources for Teaching and Learning, a bilingual preschool & home visiting program, helps prepare children to enter kindergarten ready to learn.   Families in this program are living in poverty and are in need of early childhood education, parent education, adult education and access to community agencies to support their family.   Children who are in the at home visitation program are guaranteed slots in the Preschool for All.   The FIND program currently has 195 families on their waiting list.   Giving the gift of education through New Year. Bright Future. can help to lower the waiting list. This year I’m going to begin a new list, a list of what I would like my community to look like.   It’s going to start with every child having the opportunity to have a bright future, one full of educational opportunities.   To make that happen my friends and family will all receive the gift of a better community, the gift of giving a child in our region the education they deserve.   Won’t you join me in making a difference and giving the gift of education through New Year. Bright Future.?

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