Continuing its work to ensure that metro Detroit’s children are entering school prepared to learn, United Way for Southeastern Michigan today announced it will make multi-year investments in eleven organizations that are focused on strengthening early childhood literacy and kindergarten readiness outcomes. This funding is part of a $4 million investment from the Social Innovation Fund, a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, to accelerate and bolster community-driven initiatives to improve early childhood education in low-income U.S. communities.
The grant will be used to advance early childhood education in metro Detroit and help ensure that 80% of children in the region start kindergarten ready to learn. New baseline data from the Early Development Instrument (EDI) suggests that there is extraordinary opportunity to improve the readiness of our young children. United Way uses evidence-based and transformative approaches to providing young children with the building blocks for success in school and in the 21st Century workforce.
“Through these grants and the donation from the General Motors Foundation for the Networks of Excellence initiative, we are furthering our mission to help ensure our region’s children are ready to learn,” said President and CEO Michael J. Brennan. “These organizations represent a diverse cross-section of community partners who share a common goal: to prepare children to become proficient readers and, ultimately, to provide them with the building blocks they need for a successful life.”
The 11 organizations named today, selected through a competitive bid process cover ten target communities in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties: Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS), Detroit Parent Network, Detroit Public Television, The Guidance Center, Living Arts, Macomb Intermediate School District (MISD), Matrix Human Services, National Kidney Foundation of Michigan (NKFM), Southwest Counseling Solutions, Starfish Family Services, and Vanguard Community Development Corporation.
The organizations will work in partnership with a variety of other community-based organizations to improve outcomes for an estimated 6,000 children entering kindergarten each year in the region. In addition to program support, the sub-grants will fund evaluation, data collection and capacity building initiatives to strengthen the ability of nonprofit organizations to improve early childhood outcomes in measurable and lasting ways.
At today’s event, the General Motors Foundation announced that a portion of its $27.1 million grant to fund the “Network of Excellence” initiative is allocated to support the United Way’s requirement to match the Social Innovation Fund grant. The funding is part of the GM Foundation’s continued commitment to improve education in metro Detroit.
“Our continued support will help students in Southeast Michigan be successful in the classroom,” said Chris Perry, vice president, Global Chevrolet Marketing and Strategy at General Motors, a GM Foundation and United Way for Southeastern Michigan board member. “Through our United Way Network of Excellence schools, we are committed to ensuring our children are prepared as they enter kindergarten and continue to have the resources needed to succeed in high school and beyond.”
United Way for Southeastern Michigan last year was selected as one of sixteen organizations nationwide to receive a Social Innovation Fund (SIF) grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that promotes public service and better-targets investments aimed at solving social challenges and using public-private partnerships to address issues of national significance.
In making the announcement at a news conference today at United Way for Southeastern Michigan’s headquarters in Detroit, Michael Brennan was joined by Vanessa Vasquez, Senior Public Administrator Analyst, UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families and Communities, Chris Perry, a GM Foundation and United Way for Southeastern Michigan board member, as well as representatives from several of the grantees and a host of education, community and business leaders.