You are currently browsing the monthly archive for June 2012.

If a child struggles with reading by the third grade, research shows that he (or she) is four times more likely to become a high-school drop out. By the third grade, children should be reading to learn, not learning to read. We know the costs to society and to the student himself of dropping out – lower wages, unhealthy choices, higher rates of incarceration and social service use.

At United Way, we place a huge amount of time, effort and funds in early childhood literacy. How can we spread the funds to help the most children reach their potential? How can we encourage the willing to become tutors or mentors? How do we get more parents involved? I’ll be talking about these issues and more in the months to come, and what we’re doing to address children’s potential.

Last year we held four community conversations to get your thoughts on the state of education in our community. Click here to read the report on those conversations.

I’m surrounded by success: the students of Operation Graduate and the partners who make the program work.

Another thing we’re doing is Operation Graduate. We celebrated our successful partnership with the Clearwater Police Department, the City of Clearwater, the Pinellas county School District, St. Petersburg College and others in the area in May – but mostly we celebrated the students who completed the program. Operation Graduate encourages on-time graduation and provides exposure to college to at-risk students who are doing well, and uses education to break the cycle of juvenile recidivism for teens who have been in trouble.

After only a year in operation, I’m thrilled to report on the students’ successes. Fifteen of the students who experienced classes at St. Pete College are college bound with more than $100,000 in scholarships. Two students at risk of not graduating with their class worked hard in credit recovery classes and are scheduled for on-time graduation. And you should have seen the happy mothers!

Our partners are fully committed to expanding Operation Graduate’s success in the coming year. So are the students. Clearwater Police Chief Anthony Holloway reminded them of a promise they made – to pull someone behind them along in their wake. He’s holding them to it – and so are we.







Diana Baker, President and CEO


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