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EDUCATION


Local Snapshot

2024 gOALS: eNSURE THAT 80% OF CHILDREN ARE READY FOR KINDERGARTEN. iNCREASE THE NUMBER OF 3RD GRADERS WHO ARE MEETING READING PROFICIENCY BY 20%. INCREASE THE HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION RATE BY 10%.

2025 Goal: Ensure that 60% of adults will have a post-secondary credential.

The need: In Berrien and Cass counties, 33.7% of students do not graduate from high school on time. 59.9% of 3rd graders are not meeting reading proficiency.

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From “Start to Finish”…to Juilliard?

Chokwe Pitchford is a full-time student at Lake Michigan College, involved with Start to Finish, a United Way-funded program that is designed to assist current and former foster youth, as well as students from the Benton Harbor Promise Zone, with their academic success.

     Chokwe is studying Business Administration, set to graduate in the fall of 2019. After graduation, Chokwe would like to attend the prestigious Juilliard School in New York City to pursue a career in the arts. He’s well on his way to reaching his dream, and credits Start to Finish with helping him find that path. 

Start to Finish students are offered one-on-one coaching, learning labs, academic support and tutoring, student support and advocacy, academic intervention, internship and job referrals, a computer lab, laptop loan program and transportation.

     “The program is allowing me to be as creative as possible, while at the same time having a back-up plan,” says Chokwe. “There are so many different elements to Start to Finish that cater to different needs. You get emotional support and academic support. Find out what it is that you really need in your life and seek it out in this program. There are people here who can help you find that.”

16,878 people impacted

96% of youth progressed to next grade level

96% of parents/guardians reported an increase in their knowledge, skills or ability to parent

91% of children were proficient on school readiness assessments.

9,974 children ages 0-5 enrolled in high-quality early childhood programming.

90% of students graduated high school on time.

76% of youth gained post-secondary employment, GED, further education or credentials.


DOLLY PARTON IMAGINATION LIBRARY

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library brings books to children's homes. From birth until they turn five years old, children enrolled in the program will receive a new, age-appropriate book mailed to their home each month. By the time they enter kindergarten, children will have their own library of books and be more prepared to enter school and become readers.

For more information, or to sponsor a child, CLICK HERE.


COLLECTIVE IMPACT

Collective impact happens when a group of organizations commit to addressing a community-wide social issue that cannot be solved alone.  It means adopting a new way of working by bringing nonprofits, governments, businesses, and the public together around a common agenda.  Collective impact can produce large-scale social change in ways that other forms of collaboration and individual efforts have not.  United Way of Southwest Michigan engages in three collective impact efforts. Working alongside other key community partners, we leverage our assets to galvanize our community around a common cause, a common vision, and a common path forward.  We make sure children and youth can start school ready to succeed, become proficient readers at a young age, stay on track in middle school, earn their high school diploma and pursue a higher education.

GREAT START COLLABORATIVE - BERRIEN AND CASS COUNTIES

The Great Start Collaborative (GSC) is a community initiative focusing on expanding and enhancing early childhood systems in Berrien and Cass counties. The GSC is making significant progress toward early childhood outcomes including overall health, early academic development, and school preparedness for children from birth to 3rd grade. In 2016, the GSC in Berrien County made great strides in helping children achieve Kindergarten readiness and school success through three important points of access. These include developing school readiness indicators, the ‘Get READY’ school readiness campaign, and the ‘Get READY’ parent guide and support materials.

To learn more about the Great Start Collaborative of Berrien County, visit www.GreatStartBerrien.org or contact Kristen Chism at kristen.chism@uwsm.org

To learn more about Great Start Collaborative of Cass County, contact Margie Hadsell at margie.hadsell@uwsm.org.

BERRIEN COUNTY COLLEGE ACCESS NETWORK

The Berrien County College Access Network, a Local Access Network (LCAN) is a community-based college access alliance supported by a team of community and education leaders representing K-12, higher education, the nonprofit sector, government, business, and philanthropy.  This coalition is committed to building a college-going culture and dramatically increasing college readiness, participation, and completion rates within Berrien County.  We coordinate and expand programs, services and resources that lower barriers preventing students from pursuing postsecondary educational opportunities.

To learn more about the Berrien County College Access Network, contact Maureen Ovington at maureen.ovington@uwsm.org