United Way of the Plains logo.
Greater Wichita YMCA logo.

WICHITA, Kan., May 4, 2022 — Four area nonprofits with programs focused on early education have been awarded grants through the Wichita Collective Impact (WCI) initiative. WCI is a collaboration created through a $2 million gift from Cargill that brings together the community, nonprofits, businesses and government entities to strengthen equity through educational success and workforce readiness beginning in the 67214 ZIP code. The WCI initiative was announced earlier this year and is jointly led by United Way of the Plains, the Greater Wichita YMCA and the Wichita State University Public Policy & Management Center.

Recipients of the summer 2022 Wichita Collective Impact grant focused on early childhood education.All four funded programs address kindergarten readiness for three-, four- and five-year-olds within the 67214 ZIP code, which has been identified as an area where residents are significantly underserved in education and career guidance. The grants help fund summer programs focused on improving the skills of children and engaging their parents in their development:

  • Achievement and Success for Early Learners
    This summer program will be implemented by TOP Early Learning Centers and provides a full day of preschool programming, Monday through Friday, to focus on mathematics, science and social-emotional development. Students will also receive small group literacy remediation.
  • Imagine Learn Grow Initiative
    Storytime Village will host an eight-week summer program that includes family literacy nights for parents of children entering kindergarten. Parents will participate in a workshop each week that includes read-aloud demonstrations and practical ways to engage children with motivating language and literacy activities.
  • Midtown Summer Book Series
    Several four-week education sessions with a low student to teacher ratio will be offered by St. Paul’s United Methodist Church for pre-kindergarten students. Group story read-aloud sessions will accelerate phonological awareness skills and include hands-on activities, music and developmental play. Students will keep the four books used in the program that foster equity and inclusion.
  • Pre-Kindergarten Boot Camp
    A 10-week program designed to ensure kindergarten success through a literacy-rich environment will be operated by The Center, Inc. Children will be presented with opportunities to experiment with and manipulate words and letters. Learning centers for art, science, reading, and dramatic play will also be part of the curriculum.

United Way of the Plains President and CEO Pete Najera said the grant recipients were selected by a panel made up of community members. “One of the desired outcomes of the WCI initiative is to advance education through quality early childhood programs. Our community panel felt strongly that the programs they selected would help ensure the kindergarten success rate of the children who will participate in them. We hope that a successful start to their education experience will eventually lead to higher graduation rates and workforce readiness. Ultimately, we’re striving for a more diverse, equitable and inclusive community that benefits individuals, families and employers.”

Abel Frederic, Community Impact Vice President for United Way of the Plains, added that each nonprofit managing the programs will report outcomes and work with Wichita State University Public Policy & Management Center to determine and track success measurements. “Another useful tool that each nonprofit has included in their program is the completion of an Ages & Stages Questionnaire (ASQ). The ASQ is a nationally recognized tool that provides reliable developmental screening for children ages 6 and under. Educators can then use the screening results to understand specific areas where children may need additional help to ensure their long-term learning success.”

A snapshot of the 67214 ZIP code demographics and more information about the goals of the WCI can be found at unitedwayplains.org/wichita-collective-impact-initiative/.

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PHOTO ABOVE: Click photo above to download. 

Individuals in group photo (left to right): Ebony Dancy-Guilford, The Center; Rodney Auston, The Center; Cornelia Stevens, TOP Early Learning Centers; Pete Najera, President and CEO, United Way of the Plains; Abel Frederic, Vice President of Community Impact, United Way of the Plains; Jennifer Vaughn, St. Paul’s United Methodist Church; Prisca Barnes, Storytime Village; and Nicolette Ellison, The Center.

MEDIA CONTACT: Angie Prather, Vice President of Marketing and Chief Community Engagement Officer, (316) 267-1321, aprather@unitedwayplains.org

United Way of the Plains is a nonprofit and for-impact organization that focuses on health, education, financial stability and basic needs – the building blocks for a good quality of life and a strong community. Our mission is to improve lives by harnessing the caring power of our community to advance the common good in south central Kansas. Follow us on these social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and TikTok.

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