Yale-United Way Drive Offers a Way To Invest in Community Programs, Such as the School-Readiness Initiative Success By 6

Yale has been one of United Way of Greater New Haven’s staunchest supporters of Success by 6 (SB6), an initiative that is working to ensure that young children in the area enter kindergarten ready for school.

Experts have long known that children’s experiences in the years before they enter kindergarten can either prepare them for school success, or put them at a disadvantage that is difficult to overcome.

Studies have shown that children whose physical needs are met, who experience loving interactions from parents and other caregivers, and who are exposed to high-quality early learning environments are less likely to need special education, more likely to graduate from high school on time, and more likely to be employed as adults and own their own home, than youngsters who do not begin school with that strong foundation.

Furthermore, note United Way officials, increasing the number of individuals who go on to earn post-secondary degrees and pursue higher-income careers also enhances the economic well-being of the region.

There is, however, an achievement gap between white and minority students and between low-income and higher-income students in the New Haven region at all points along the educational continuum, say United Way officials, noting that the drop-out rate in New Haven and the inner-ring suburbs is too high.

In 2006, 27.6% of New Haven children lived in a family with income below the federal poverty level ($20,516 for a family of four). This is particularly troubling in terms of pre-school development, say United Way officials, because statistics show the average child from a low-income family has been exposed to much less human communication — on average 30 million fewer words — than peers from higher-income homes.

United Way of Greater New Haven launched SB6, the nation’s largest community-based early childhood movement, in October 2004, and Yale demonstrated its commitment to education by giving the first corporate gift of $100,000. The 2004-2005 United Way campaign raised over $411,000 for SB6 with more than half ($228,000) from the Yale community.

By contributing to SB6, donors helped fund programs that help teen parents stay in school and receive needed support services, as well as efforts like the “Born Learning” campaign, which provides information about how parents can support their child’s growth and development.

Not only do generous contributions help the families that directly benefit from them, they also help the community as a whole, note United Way officials. A study has shown that every $1 invested in early childhood education saves $17 down the road; the benefits of such investments include lower crime rates, fewer single parents, and higher individual earnings and education levels.

Through its annual appeal, the Yale-United Way Campaign is urging individuals to invest in the community’s and the nation’s biggest asset — its children. Donations to the United Way SB6 program can help ensure that all children and youth have access to quality learning opportunities beginning at birth, thereby ensuring that they will go on to become productive and contributing members of society.

To make a donation to SB6, visit www.uwgnh.org.

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