Fernandina Beach, FL
Jimmy Engram, 3, shows his Island Academy teacher, Vicki Jones, how he can identify letters in the alphabet.
— Jimmy Engram, 3, is happy to share how well he can sing his ABCs and use geometric shapes to make a picture. His mother, Brenda Manson, is even happier.
Before Jimmy was accepted into United Way’s Success By 6™ program in August, he had been in a day care that did not provide learning activities. So, Jimmy began to forget what he had learned in a previous daycare. Today, Jimmy is thriving at Island Academy in Fernandina Beach, where the Success By 6 program is offered.
Success By 6, a partnership between United Way and The Early Learning Coalition of Duval and the Early Learning Coalition of Clay, Nassau, Baker and Bradford, provides two-year scholarships to working families with three-year-old children. The children are placed in high-quality early education centers and receive two years of full-day education and care. Since Success By 6 began in 2007, more than 476 preschoolers have received grants to attend.
“From the time Jimmy was an infant, he went to a great school. But before he was three years old, I had to take him out of that day care and enroll him elsewhere,” said Manson. “Unfortunately, this new provider did not give him the structure and learning opportunities he was used to and all the things he had begun to learn, were gone.”
Manson, a single mom, knew she had to immediately remove him from this provider, but she had financial challenges. By chance, she had heard about Success By 6 being offered at Island Academy, but did not know if Jimmy would be accepted.
“I applied and was amazed at how easy the transition was to this program. He started it August 6 and is back to knowing his ABCs and being happy to go to school. I know the social skills he is now learning will give him an advantage when he goes to kindergarten in two years,” Manson added.
The Florida Institute of Education at University of North Florida evaluates Success By 6 results with standardized tests that evaluate vocabulary skills and measure school readiness. The results are, after two years of high quality early learning:
• 42 percent improvement in preschoolers who are very delayed in their expressive vocabulary
• 19 percent improvement in preschoolers who are ready for school?
“Success By 6 is making a significant difference in the lives of children and giving their parents peace of mind,” said Rose Marie Llerandi, Island Academy co-owner/director, with her sister Janet Powell. “Because of United Way’s support, Jimmy can be in quality care and his mother can focus on using her income for other expenses.”
Each year, nearly 18,000 Nassau County residents receive assistance from United Way-funded programs, such as Success By 6. There are 11 Nassau County-based agencies and a total of 44 United Way-funded programs located in Duval and Nassau counties that assist Nassau County residents.
You can learn more at United Way of Northeast Florida’s 2011 Nassau County Community Campaign Kickoff at 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 6. Bright Mornings, located on 3rd St. in historic downtown Fernandina Beach, will cater the hot breakfast buffet. For more information on how to start a workplace or individual campaign, contact United Way Campaign Division Manager Amy Dyar at (904) 390-3239. To RSVP for the kickoff, call Rhoda Rush at (904) 390-3215 by Sept. 30.
United Way of Northeast Florida works to create positive, sustainable change by focusing on the building blocks for a good life – education, income and health in Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau and northern St. Johns counties. In partnership with volunteers, community organizations, and leaders, United Way is advancing the common good by creating opportunities to improve lives Northeast Florida. United Way’s Born Learning, Success By 6, Achievers For Life and Full Service Schools initiatives are a community-based approach to removing barriers to academic success. In addition, United Way leads United Way 2-1-1, a 24/7 information referral hotline serving nine counties and Life: Act 2, a pro-active response to senior independence. For more information, call 904-390-3200 or visit www.LiveUnitedNortheastFlorida.org.