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August 21, 2014

Amazing Things Happen in the First Few Years

by PBUnitedWay

It’s back to school time in Palm Beach County!  And while you’re getting back into the routine of car pools, afterschool activities and homework – you probably don’t have time to think about how important an early education is.

Across Palm Beach County, 30% of children arrived unprepared on their first day – which means on the first day they are already behind.  Research tells us that by age 5, children have already developed 85% of their capacity to learn. 

At the Town of Palm Beach United Way we understand that kids develop most of their fundamental skills in the first few years of life.  The research is clear – dollar for dollar early childhood programs are the most effective way to boost educational achievement and future earning potential.

One of our partner agencies, Opportunity, Inc., is a great example of a quality education program for children who would not otherwise have access to this type of program.  They are accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, meaning they provide the high standard of education necessary to effectively prepare children for kindergarten.

Patricia Jones is an amazing success story for the quality of education Opportunity, Inc. provides in our community:

When Patricia first came into contact with Opportunity, Inc. she was living in a transitional housing program for homeless families. Her 20-year drug addiction had resulted in homelessness with no financial resources with a baby to care for.

Opportunity accepted her son at the age of 2 ½ which allowed him to receive access to an early education program that would have been unaffordable while Patricia completed her drug treatment program. Her son remained there until he graduated their pre-k program and during that time Patricia also welcomed a baby girl, who was also entered into their program at 6 weeks old.   Her daughter remained at Opportunity all the way through pre-k as well, and now wants to go back and read to the classes.

Not only did Opportunity, Inc. provide a scholastic education, they also work on emotional health by having students talk out their feelings. They always provide age appropriate stimulation, as opposed to just baby-sitting and also provide classes for the parents.

Patricia’s son, Jerome, is now 10 years old and in 5th grade.  His latest report card shows 2 A’s, 5 B’s, and 1 C.  He will soon be joining the ‘Young Marines of Palm Beach County’ and wants to become a veterinarian or an animal cop when he grows up.

Victoria, her daughter is now 6 years old and in 1st grade. She has been on the Honor Roll every semester since entering Kindergarten. She is a Brownie in the Girl Scouts and loves to help those in need. During a Turkey drive at her school she donated her allowance.

And Patricia has been drug free for 9 years and is now the Program Coordinator for a homeless program for persons with a disability, giving back every day the same way when she was down and out.

It is with the help of thousands of donors that we are able to support programs that work towards providing a quality education for children in Palm Beach County.  To learn more about the programs we support in the areas of education, health and income, please visit our website www.palmbeachunitedway.org.

About the Town of Palm Beach United Way

Since 1945, the Town of Palm Beach United Way has invested more than $60 million into Palm Beach County because of generous donors who live or work on the island of Palm Beach.  We advance the common good, creating opportunities for a better life for all by focusing on the three building blocks of education, health and income.  The Town of Palm Beach United Way recruits people and organizations that bring the passion, expertise and resources needed to get things done.  LIVE UNITED® is a call to action for everyone to become part of the change.  For more information, call us at 561.655.1919 or visit www.palmbeachunitedway.org.

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