Education is the cornerstone of individual and community success. It is essential to getting and keeping a job with a livable wage and health benefits. And, it is fundamental to a community’s economic prosperity: a well-educated workforce attracts world-class jobs!
The first three education focus areas build toward high school graduation, a major milestone on the path to successful adulthood. Over their lifetime, high school graduates earn 74% more than those who drop out. High school graduation is the single most powerful predictor of whether a young person coming from generations of poverty will break the cycle.
Enter School Ready to Succeed
Children learn best in loving, nurturing relationships and through everyday experiences. These essential connections hard-wire the brain for future learning, especially in the early years. Whether children are at home, with relatives or friends, or in childcare, the quality of early experiences is key to later school success. The United Way of Southwest New Mexico supports programs with initiatives to improve the quality of childcare, family support, early intervention and public awareness activities to equip parents to make the best choices for their families.
Read Proficiently by 4th Grade
The ability to read, write and comprehend written information is essential to success in an academic environment and many children who have not achieved a proficient level by grade four find themselves left behind as their curriculum advances. The United Way of Southwest New Mexico supports this initiative by working with area programs that provide reading and literacy opportunities for younger children such as free book and reading programs.
Make a Successful Transition to Middle School
Middle school is where the rubber meets the road. Many disadvantaged children begin to fall behind; greater levels of truancy and behavior problems lead to out-of-school suspension. Fewer than 2 in 10 eighth graders are on track for college-level work. This means than 8 in 10 won’t have the knowledge and skills to succeed in high school.
Most high school dropout prevention efforts start in high school – which is too late, according to research. Students’ academic achievement by 8th grade has a greater impact on college and career readiness than high school academic work. Research shows that students’ readiness for college and career can be boosted with focus on middle school activity.
Students from 4th grade through high school spend less time in school and more time in a variety of other environments, including formal programs and community service. The United Way of Southwest New Mexico supports local programs that are working on these important middle grade transitions.