Reading on grade level by third grade is a significant predictor for high school success. Research shows that children born healthy and developing on track ensures the path for them to be proficient readers by third grade. School Readiness, therefore, starts as early as prenatal care. Based on the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, Dr. Conley, Professor at New York University, states “low birth weight, defined as less than 2,500 grams, or 5.5 pounds, has predictive power to alter the chance that a newborn will graduate high school on time. Low birth weight also makes it more likely that a baby later will be held back in school, be enrolled in special education or classified as learning disabled” (Population Reference Bureau). Low birth-weight babies are highly susceptible to neuro-developmental problems, behavioral problems and attention deficit disorder that can interfere with their learning and school success (2010 Kids County Report, p. 15-16).
One of the significant factors among the various developmental factors is vocabulary development (linguistic). According to a longitudinal study done by Betty Hart and Todd Risley, children from wealthier families by age 3 have heard 30 million more words than children from less-wealthy families. This readiness gap eventually becomes an achievement gap when children enter school.
These programs offer case management to students who are struggling in school and to assist the family on how to improve academic success. When students are identified as being at-risk case management is offered. Most of the programs have to work with the families who are really struggling to survive before they can focus on the student success. The case managers spend a lot of time providing resources and supports to the families.
Students who live in Polk, Dallas, and Warren counties. This program mainly focuses on students who have been identified as at-risk academically.
UWCI believes that some families have so many issues and are just surviving and because of this thinking they are not able to support their child's educational success. UWCI believes that impacting student success in school will be more successful if we are able to help families with the multiple issues they are experiencing such as: stable affordable housing, access to food, workforce development, etc. It is believed that if families are financial stable that they can then focus on their child's academic success.
UWCI believes that focusing on quality after-school programming can impact the success of students academically. Research does state that after-school programs can impact a student academically if they comprise the following qualities: quality of program and staff, regular attendance in the program, and literacy programming. For years, UWCI has required that all after-school programs track quality either by having a national quality measure of by using the Youth Program Quality Assessment and continuously trying to improve this quality annually, tracking the credentials of staff who are working in the program, and also tracking consistent attendance in the after-school program at a 60% attendance rate. This past year our focus has been on increasing the literacy programming offered in United Way funded and non-funded after-school programs. We have invested in offering technical assistance in literacy to all programs over the past year. We are using Literacy Coaches that are working with the staff in these programs to improve literacy activities that are being offered in the programs.
Students in Polk, Dallas, and Warren counties with particular focus on low-income students in schools and neighborhoods.
By supporting programs serving students in after-school programs we believe that students are in a safe environment, being supported by other adults, getting some academic programming that can help to extend the school day and to support the learning that takes place while the student is in school. We also hope to impact the parents of these students to educate on the importance of school attendance and academic success. By offering the technical assistance through the Literacy Coaches we are hoping to improve the literacy of students in the program and ultimately improving academic success of the students.
This strategy is fairly new but the Education Cabinet felt that this was an area where United Way could show impact by investing in this work. This summer with partnership with Des Moines Public Schools and over 25 community based partners our community is launching "Summer in the City" where we are hoping to impact 3,000 students and 1,000 parents in the areas of education, income, and health. Our goals is to help students reduce or stop summer learning loss by offering intensive summer programming focuses on students who have been identified being at risk.
School’s out and summer is in full swing. But for some central Iowa kids, summer is anything but a carefree time of swimming and summer camp. For most of the year, school is the safe place with healthy meals. Summer can mean no supervision, no learning – and little to eat.
According to the National Summer Learning Association, youth backslide academically by 2 months during the summer. Summer learning loss is more severe among youth in lower-income neighborhoods. The lack of quality summer programs can eventually mean the difference between dropping out of school and graduation.
United Way and 25 partner schools and nonprofits have launched five new programs - Summer in the City- for children and their families. These are made possible due to the record-setting success of the 2012 United Way campaign. In each of the five programs, parents will have the opportunity for English language instruction, high school completion programs, job skill coaching and a financial literacy boot camp.
The five Summer in the City programs are:
Summer Learning for Elementary Students
This 6-week program is offered in high-need neighborhoods to children who have finished grades K-5 and are below proficiency in reading or math. The programs will take place at King Elementary in Des Moines Public Schools, Crestview Elementary in West Des Moines Schools and at Perry Elementary and Perry Middle School in Perry, Iowa. Academic programming will focus on:
·Reinforcement of literacy lessons introduced during regular school times.
·Enrichment activities which are designed to build vocabulary and general knowledge.
Breakfast, lunch, and snacks will be provided. Parents will drop off and pick up students at the same times as the regular school schedule or students will be bused to some locations.
To support health efforts, access to healthy food and physical activity will be explored. At King, YMCA will engage them in offering healthy snacks and physical activity “breaks” for the kids. In addition, we will partner to develop short physical “bursts” that students can engage in throughout the day to get them up and moving. United Way will also provide healthy snack backpacks to send home with the students for the weekend to share with the family.
Des Moines Public Schools 21st Century Grant, Prairie Meadows, Grubb Y, Y Reader’s Program, After School Arts program (ASAP), Community Youth Concepts, Evelyn K. Davis Center, DMACC, Financial Capability Network, Central Iowa Works, Project Iowa
Numbers Served: 200 children, 300 adults
MLK Park Youth
This program, held at Martin Luther King Park in Des Moines, helps younger children with academics, physical activity, crafts and other enrichment activities to keep youth engaged while building social and academic skills. Included in the programming will be lunch as a summer meal site sponsored by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. Several local churches in the area helped recruit families.
Child and Family Policy Center, United Way Literacy Coaches, Evelyn K. Davis Center for Working Families, DMACC, Financial Capability Network, Central Iowa Works, Project Iowa, HOME Inc., and Des Moines Area Religious Council.
Numbers Served: 30 children, 45 adults
Middle School Summer Program
For youth entering sixth through eighth grades, thissummer learning opportunity is offered for approximately 100 students at each of the 10 Des Moines middle schools. The program will run from 9-5 each day, five days per week for six weeks, focusing on academic enrichment as well as science, technology and math (STEM) and experiential learning.
Des Moines Public Schools 21st Century Learning Grant, Community Youth Concepts, Evelyn K. Davis Center for Working Families, DMACC, Financial Capability Network, Central Iowa Works, Project Iowa, HOME Inc., Des Moines Area Religious Council and the Greater Des Moines YMCA
Numbers Served: 1,000 youth, 500 adults
Refugee Summer Enrichment Program
The summer is great time to help refugee children and their parents improve their English language skills. During summer, focus can be on individual student needs: helping students catch up, and preparing them for the following school year. In addition to work with English language skills, cultural, academic and social skill needs can be addressed for children and parents. Connecting to prior learning and using real-life experiences are crucial for helping English language learners to progress, and the summer provides time for creative, innovative, and effective programming outside the confines of the school schedule and environment.
The program has designed activities involving children and their parents reading together, using technology, and experiencing American culture. In addition, food access, nutrition, and physical activity will be stressed.
The summer academy will serve families at Carver and Windsor elementary schools, and Meredith and Weeks middle schools. The students attend Tuesday through Saturday. United Way provides daily nutritious lunches and transportation.
Des Moines Public Schools, Evelyn K. Davis Center for Working Families, DMACC, Financial Capability Network, Central Iowa Works, Project Iowa, HOME Inc., Des Moines Area Religious Council, Greater Des Moines YMCA ,DART, Des Moines Police, Visiting Nurse Services, EMBARC, and Lutheran Services in Iowa.
Numbers Served: 600 children, 180 adults
Summer Youth Experience Program (SYEP)
The Summer Youth Experience Program (SYEP) is designed to prepare youth ages 14 – 21 from low-income households with the skill development needed for participants to experience long-term success as employees. It also provides an opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the real world in order to build confidence, excel and add value to a company’s current operation.
85 youth will have the opportunity to become part of the workforce and earn a competitive wage. Following acceptance into the SYEP program, participants will complete a two week leadership orientation, with the opportunity to be placed in the work experience program at an average stipend of $8.00 per hour. Prior to being placed with an employer, all participants will complete 30 hours of pre-employment services and will take the National Career Readiness Test to earn a certificate.
All students will also be given the opportunity to complete an online job search and identify jobs in which they are interested. Participants will receive exposure to college campuses by visiting four different colleges: DMACC, ISU, Grand View University and Simpson College to learn the differences between two and four year schools. Additional character-building opportunities will include involvement in community service, role playing with real life scenarios on prioritizing, budgeting and managing their situation using the Life Store workshop from Iowa College Association Network, and participating in a graduation ceremony. Funding to support this program will include funds from the Principal Charity Golf Classic.
Principal Charity Classic, Evelyn K. Davis Center for Working Families, Oakridge Neighborhood, DMACC, Financial Capability Network, Central Iowa Works, Project Iowa, Iowa State University, Grand View University, Drake University and Simpson College.
Numbers Served: 85 youth and 100 adults
Des Moines Register article announcing the launch of Summer in the City:
Students in Polk, Dallas, and Warren counties with specific focus on students who have been identified at-risk of summer learning loss by their respective school district.
We believe that offering this type of programming this summer that we can reduce the amount of summer learning and that when school starts in the fall that less time is spent on review of the previous year.
Research states that quality out-of-school activities can impact the success of students in school. UWCI requires that all out-of-school programming track quality of the program and the staff that work in the program. Although these programs do not meet daily but many meet on a weekly basis. Providing technical assistance to these programs about the importance of literacy development has helped these programs to think about how they impact academic success of students participating in these program.
Students in Polk, Dallas, and Warren counties with UWCI funding to support low-income students in neighborhoods and schools.
UWCI believes that providing quality out-of-school programming that students will be exposed to building developmental assets that will impact school success. UWCI believes that if students stay engaged in these programs consistently and reengage for at least 4 years or more that these programs will provide great benefit academically.