United Way of Northeast Florida Success By 6 Early Education Scholarship Deadline November 1st
Press Release – When Success By 6 participant Hailey Reeder, 5, glides her finger across the pages of her favorite book, proudly reading each word aloud, her mother, Amanda, beams with joy. Hailey’s ReadingPal, Phyllis Stabler, has the same positive reaction. Success By 6 and ReadingPals are two United Way of Northeast Florida programs that have helped prepare Hailey for kindergarten this fall.
Research has demonstrated that the early years of a child’s development provide some of the best opportunities for learning and education. For every $1 invested in early childhood learning programs, there is an approximately $12.90 return on that investment. However, for those children who could benefit most from early learning, the opportunity is often out of reach.
To meet this need for early learning opportunities, Success By 6, a partnership between United Way of Northeast Florida and The Early Learning Coalition of North Florida and Episcopal Children’s Services, provides two-year early learning scholarships for three-year-olds to attend high-quality, accredited early learning centers. The children receive free, full-day education and care. Research shows that children who completed the Success By 6 program outpaced their peers by 11 percent in kindergarten readiness.
In addition, ReadingPals connects passionate, committed volunteers with preschoolers who need a little extra help getting ready for kindergarten. For 30 minutes each week, a ReadingPal spends time with a pair of preschoolers, reading a book, completing activities, and developing skills that they’ll need for success in school.
Amanda Reeder learned about Success By 6 when Hailey was three years old. She and her husband needed a new, dependable child care option because their employment status and income had changed.
“Hailey was used to being cared for at home for her first three years so I wasn’t sure if she would be frightened being away from us,” Amanda said. “I knew we couldn’t financially provide for her so when we applied and received the Success By 6 scholarship for her to attend Island Academy, I knew everything would be okay.”
In fact, everything was more than okay.
“The Success By 6 scholarship gave Hailey the opportunity to attend an early learning center beyond what my husband and I could have provided for her. Hailey’s two years at Island Academy in Fernandina Beach made a huge difference in how she learns,” Amanda said. “We could feel the love the teachers gave her as soon as we walked in the front door. In a short time, Hailey went from not wanting to go to school to not wanting to miss it!”
The past year, while at Island Academy, Hailey was paired with Fernandina Beach resident and former teacher, Phyllis Stabler, a ReadingPal volunteer who said she believes reading aloud with children gives them confidence to learn.
“I’ve always loved reading with children,” Stabler said. “Watching Hailey’s increased self-assurance to learn words and seeing her reading skills grow was very gratifying. When children are given one-on-one attention, as in the ReadingPals program, they blossom.”
The deadline to apply for Success By 6 scholarships is Nov. 1. In Nassau County call Mary Caldwell at (904) 491-3638, or go to ecs4kids.org and apply through the Simplified Point of Entry.
Success By 6 includes:
• Free, daylong care for your three-year-old through July 2016 at a high-quality early learning center.
What you need to apply:
• All adults (18 years old and up) in the home must be in school or working.
• Your child must be three years old on or before Sept. 1, 2014.
• You must meet income limits.
• Your child must attend at least 85 percent of the school days.
• A willingness to participate in child and parent assessments.
• A willingness to commit to staying in the program for two years.
• Attendance at parent education nights at your child’s center.
Hailey Reeder, 5, shows her ReadingPal Phyllis Stabler how she can read aloud. Hailey’s two-year participation in Success By 6 at Island Academy helped prepare her for kindergarten this fall at Southside Elementary.
About United Way of Northeast Florida, Nassau County:
Each year, nearly 12,000 Nassau County residents’ lives are improved through United Way-funded programs such as Success By 6, including preschoolers, at-risk youth, people with disabilities, senior citizens, local families and many others. There are 10 Nassau County-based impact partners and a total of 44 United Way-funded programs located in Duval and Nassau counties that assist Nassau County residents.
About United Way of Northeast Florida:
United Way focuses on education, income and health – the building blocks for a quality life. The organization supports measurable solutions to ensure children enter school ready to learn, students stay on track to graduation, families achieve financial stability and people have the tools to lead healthy, productive lives. More information can be found at unitedwaynefl.org.