United Way Suncoast kicked off its new fiscal year on July 1 by initiating the distribution of a three-year grant that will deliver a total of $301,500 to Children First. The agency will use these funds to support its Head Start and Early Head Start programs.
Early Head Start supports family well-being through the promotion of healthy prenatal outcomes and infant and toddler development from birth to age three, while Head Start promotes school readiness for at-risk children ages three to five.
“We are excited to partner with United Way Suncoast in a collaborative effort to serve ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) families. The unfortunate reality is that in our region, two out of five families cannot cover their basic needs. Children First has a commitment to provide every child and family an equal opportunity to succeed, in school and in life, and we could not do this without the support from our community partners,” says CEO Philip Tavill.
As the exclusive provider of Head Start and Early Head Start services for Sarasota County, Children First serves hundreds of very young children, ages birth to five, and their families living at or below the Federal Poverty Level ($23,030 for a family of 3) across 15 locations each year.
The community investment represents a first in United Way Suncoast’s 98-year history — a three-year commitment to 88 nonprofits that will total nearly $18 million by fiscal year 2025. In past years, United Way Suncoast issued annual grants. The new approach will empower Children First to boost the strategic planning behind the program and grow together with United Way Suncoast.
“Our strategic community partners requested a change to multi-year funding and the reasons are clear,” United Way Suncoast CEO Jessica Muroff said. “It’ll create trends and allow us to measure true impact; it’ll reduce the strain of the application process for the partners and UWS, and it’ll strengthen our ability to tell stories and fundraise.”
To learn more about how to give of your time, talent, and treasure, visit childrenfirst.net. You can learn more about United Way Suncoast at www.unitedwaysuncoast.org.
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.