During a balmy Florida winters day the United Way of Central Florida and its partners came together by Lake Morton at the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce and committed to increase school readiness rates for children entering public school kindergarten in Polk County by five percent by 2018.
“School readiness rates in Polk County have been stagnant for five years, it is time to rock out of this rut!” said Alan H. Turner II, President and CEO of the United Way of Central Florida. “We pledge to improve readiness rates for children entering kindergarten by five percent so that at least half all kids are ready for school on day one…And once we hit this goal, we will set one even higher!”
Speakers at the announcement, which took place on Tuesday, Dec. 15, were Turner; Dr. Eileen Holden, President of Polk State College; Kelly Williams-Puccio, Executive Director of Publix Super Markets Charities Foundation; Kathryn LeRoy, Superintendent, Polk County Public Schools; Kurt Elmhorst, Chairman of the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce; Penny Borgia, COO of the United Way of Central Florida; Gilbert Rincon, CEO of the Early Learning Coalition of Polk and Kathy Ingram, Director, Multi-Sector Development, Nemours Foundation.
“A true commitment to early childhood education is one of the major indicators of how prosperous a society will be,” said Turner. “The United Way of Central Florida and its partners are ready to work together with our community to help prepare our youngest citizens to be the most successful they can be.”
At the forefront of these efforts is the United Way of Central Florida, whose goal it is to raise awareness of the problem and to motivate its donors to give to programs that have proven to be successful in raising early childhood educational readiness.
“We have worked for six years to find the right combination of partners, materials and training. We now have data that shows what we are doing works,” said Penny Borgia, chief operating officer for United Way.
United Way of Central Florida, Publix Super Markets Charities and the Early Learning Coalition of Polk have made the investment to help several child-care centers adopt the Nemours BrightStart! instructional curriculum for children at risk for reading failure. The partners hope to expand the program into every pre-K and child-care center in the county.
Officials in attendance included Lakeland Mayor Howard Wiggs, Winter Haven City Manager Deric Feacher and Bartow Mayor Pat Huff.
Mar 12/18 - Apr 12/18 12:00 PM - 01:00 PM Build United- Register a Team Today!
Apr 03/18 12:00 PM - 01:00 PM Tocqueville Tuesdays - Bonnet Springs Park
Apr 05/18 05:00 PM - 07:00 PM Story Book Adventures Pajama Party with Elephant and Piggie
Apr 19/18 09:00 AM - 11:00 AM Infant Massage at Family Fundamentals
Apr 19/18 12:00 PM - 01:00 PM Board of Directors Meetings