TAMPA – ALICE family youth and children living below the poverty line will continue to get a head start in life thanks to the efforts of a longtime nonprofit and the help of an organization dedicated to creating pathways of early learning.
Children First, the exclusive Head Start grantee for Sarasota County, will receive $165,000 from United Way Suncoast’s Community Investment Fund to support Early Head Start and Head Start efforts.
Families can find Early Head Start and Head Start at 15 locations in Sarasota County. They serve families and children 6 weeks to 5 years of age living in extreme poverty. Early Head Start (birth to 3) promotes healthy prenatal outcomes, strengthens family functioning and nurtures the development of infants and toddlers. Our programs enhance children’s physical, social, emotional, and intellectual development. Head Start (3-5) focuses on the comprehensive needs of preschoolers resulting in Kindergarten Readiness.
“The partnership between Children First and United Way Suncoast supports our community’s most at-risk, very young children and their families in a way that truly changes lives,” says Children First CEO Philip Tavill. “Together, we help lay the foundation for success and making dreams come true.”
The lasting community impact created by Children First aligns with United Way’s priorities. As households continue to grapple with the financial fallout of the pandemic and parents strive to navigate a challenging educational year, United Way Suncoast has stepped up with a $6.05 million boost to 77 area nonprofits for the 2022 fiscal year.
UWS continues its 97-year mission of lifting up the community by sustaining its focus on four priority areas: early learning, youth success, financial stability and asset development. The investment extends to all five counties in UWS’ region – DeSoto, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota – and underscores the organization’s long-time commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
“We are proud to support high-impact programs that will do so much good across our region,” said United Way Suncoast CEO Jessica Muroff. “As we look to emerge from the pandemic and strengthen our commitment to diversity, equality, and inclusion with a new strategic vision, it’s never been more important to advocate for our community. Through our partnerships and expertise, we will continue to create bold solutions to our biggest challenges – uplifting lives and achieving equity for generations to come.”
For the second consecutive year, the organization convened a group of dedicated volunteers who conducted a thoughtful and thorough job in choosing the nonprofits. The allocation, an increase of more than $400,000 from the 2020 allocation, will impact nearly 150,000 people in UWS’ five-county region. UWS also raised and distributed $1.9 million for pandemic relief over a six-week period in 2020.
Each grant will fund specific programs that support the interconnected priority areas and help ALICE (Asset, Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) families who stand just one unexpected expense from enduring hardship.
About Children First
Founded in 1961 and ranked in the top 1% out of over 1,800 Head Starts nationwide, Children First strengthens children and families by improving the quality of their lives through a comprehensive approach to development, education, health, and well-being. At 15 sites throughout Sarasota County, Children First offers full-day preschool, infant and toddler care, and nutrition and health care assistance to children ages birth to five years old from low-income families. Through Children First, the children receive the social and cognitive skills needed to enter kindergarten and elementary school on track. For more information, call (941) 953-3877 or go to childrenfirst.net.
About United Way Suncoast
United Way Suncoast severs the constraints that prevent families from thriving. We dismantle the barriers to human prosperity, uniting our community along the way. When we provide pathways to early learning, financial stability and youth success, we lift up families as they cultivate a future beyond circumstantial constraints. We provide choices. We provide opportunities. We create space for families to grow without limitations, elevating communities by building a future with equity for all. We are proud to serve the people of DeSoto, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota counties by operating and funding services and programs to help our community have the Freedom To Rise.
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