“The work we’re starting with several partner organizations will have a transformative impact on thousands of children in our community for years to come,” said Gordon, who added that about $2.7 million has been raised.
Other major contributions include AK Steel, the Miriam G. Knoll Charitable Foundation, Akers Packaging Service, Premier Health/Atrium Medical Center, Cohen, Gary and Sarah Kaup, Tina Breitenbach, Larry and Cathie Mulligan, David and Carole Schul and Tom and Mary Deas Wortley, with smaller donations from nearly 200 local families. The effort has been officially endorsed by all local school districts, all local Chambers of Commerce and the Middletown Area Unit of the NAACP, Gordon said.
Parts of the Ready! plan have already been implemented with other parts being phased in over the course of the next several months. The plan will:
• Expand the Educational Service Center’s home visitation program for local at-risk families with children birth to age 3 and age 3-5 if not in preschool programs;
• Create peer-to-peer parent ambassadors and expand parenting classes at the Robert “Sonny” Hill Community Center’s Parent Resource Center;
• Provide incentives for local preschools to work with 4C for Children to achieve state quality rating standards;
• Provide sliding-scale Bob Flagel Preschool Scholarships for local children to attend high-quality rated private preschools;
• Support transportation to local early childhood programs;
• Continue the Ready Schools kindergarten orientation program in the five local school districts in partnership with United Way;
• Work with local elementary schools on literacy enrichment programs for grades K-2;
• Provide community resource liaison social workers for local elementary schools;
• Staff a coordinator and professional evaluation position at United Way dedicated to Middletown early childhood programs;
• Provide grants to local school districts to support technology needs, standardized testing vouchers, and guidance assistance regarding workforce development, college prep and vocational education.