How the United Way helps young students thrive

Posted at 8:41 AM, Dec 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-23 08:41:16-05

RICHMOND, Va. - In our region, one in six kids starts kindergarten without the skills ready to even begin school; skills like standing in line or raising your hand in the classroom. The United Way of Greater Richmond and Petersburg is trying to change that.

"We know that if a student starts behind on their first day of school, that's going to affect them all the way up to when they graduate high school,” Audrey Trussell, with the United Waty, said.

This coming year there will be an emphasis on investing in education-based non-profits and creating more programs to reach as many kids as possible.

"Instead of throwing money at the problem, we're throwing money at the solution," Trussell said. “We’re throwing money at the people who know the answer. And we're doing that in conjunction with amazing non-profits who make this work successful."

People like David Young, who helps run the Friends Association for Children in Petersburg. He said one of the first things you have to do is get kids excited about learning.

"If you've got their interest, their excitement, their enthusiasm [then] they're already on their path for success," Young said.

The United Way is looking at numbers through the lens of race, income, ability, age, and gender.

"Black students makeup 32-percent of the student population, but account for 35-percent of students that aren't ready for kindergarten," Trussell said. “When we look at Hispanic students, they makeup 13-percent of the student population, but account for 30-percent of students not ready for kindergarten."

More than money, the United Way is hoping to also find volunteers.

"Oh, it's a great feeling," Young said. “It could be the smallest thing. Seeing a child learn how to tie their shoe or use a pair of scissors, or write their name. It's amazing!"

Building stronger non-profits is Building Better Minds.

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