United Way Receives $250K Grant to Test Early Education Alternatives

Families with 2- and 3-year-olds will use home-based technology as part of pilot program.
September 19, 2023
Early Learning Center and United Way of Greater Cincinnati

Contact: media@uwgc.org

GREENDALE, Ind. (Sept. 19, 2023) – United Way of Greater Cincinnati Southeast Indiana has been awarded a $250,000 grant to explore the effectiveness of affordable, home-based, early education technologies. The pilot program relies on community-informed solutions to help ensure more children from low-income families are ready for kindergarten.

Early Learning Indiana, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit, awarded the grant through its Early Years Initiative, which is funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. In all, 86 organizations were awarded grants totaling more than $31 million to support the learning and development of Indiana infants and toddlers.

Research shows that brain development during the first three years of a child’s life is tied to long-term academic success and quality of life. A 2020 study sponsored by United Way’s Success By 6® confirmed children who are prepared for kindergarten have greater academic success through high school.

United Way will use the grant over the next three years to explore how technological tools and online educational services can help expand the accessibility of high-quality early learning for families in Southeast Indiana.

“We want to provide children and families alternative early development experiences that work best for them,” said Moira Weir, President and CEO of United Way of Greater Cincinnati. “Building more supportive communities and home environments is critical to healthy brain development and long-term positive outcomes for children.”

About 3,000 infants and toddlers reside in Dearborn and Ohio counties, but only 294 high-quality child care slots exist, all in Dearborn, according to Building Blocks, the child care and resource referral agency for Southern Indiana. Although some families choose to keep their infants and toddlers at home, many are forced to do so because quality, affordable options are lacking. Waiting lists at local preschools are common.

United Way will develop a pilot program that focuses on families with 2- and 3-year-old children not enrolled in early education or pre-kindergarten programs. An advisory group comprised of parents and caregivers will be formed to better understand families’ needs and to select existing home-based, early education technologies and experiences to test with families. Affordability is key; even the most expensive early education technologies are about half the cost of child care in Dearborn County, according to Building Blocks.

United Way will tap its community partners to find families that wish to participate, with about 225 children expected to enroll over the three-year grant cycle. As families use their chosen technology tool, a United Way staffer or project partner will act as case manager, checking in periodically to assess the tool’s advantages or disadvantages, troubleshooting for the family and connecting them to additional resources.

Information gathered from participants will help assess children’s progress toward kindergarten readiness and will help determine the viability of home-based early education solutions.

For a full list of grant recipients, visit EarlyYearsInitiative.org.

About United Way

With its dedicated donors, staff and partners, United Way of Greater Cincinnati brings new voices and solutions to decades-old challenges so more families in our community thrive.

As the community catalyst, UWGC drives change through investments, influence and filling gaps in services to create lasting change for families today and for future generations.

UWGC does this by focusing on six investment portfolios: Housing First, NextGen Success, Equitable Economic Mobility, Improved Prevention/Stronger Communities, Ready Kids/Resilient Families and Responding to Community Needs.

Learn more about UWGC’s work underway in nine counties in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana and how you can be part of our collective community impact at UWGC.org. #LiveUnited

About Early Learning Indiana

Early Learning Indiana is an expert and trusted voice on early childhood education that works statewide to provide leadership, advocacy and early childhood education services that continually improve the early learning landscape in Indiana. Early Learning Indiana operates 11 nationally accredited, high-quality Day Early Learning centers, a network of premier community-based centers used to advance the science of early learning, train the next generation of teachers and leaders, and instill knowledge and skills in the children we serve. Through regional and statewide programs, the organization works to ensure young children are empowered with essential skills to thrive in kindergarten and beyond. Learn more at EarlyLearningIN.org.

About Lilly Endowment Inc.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private foundation created in 1937 by J. K. Lilly and his sons, Eli and J.K. Jr., through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the endowment, the endowment is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with its founders’ wishes, the endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion. Although the endowment funds programs throughout the United States, especially in the field of religion, it maintains a special commitment to its founders’ hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana.

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