At United Way of Greater Atlanta, we are focused on the well-being of children, families and communities across Greater Atlanta. When you are able to say that children are doing well in the community, it’s a great indicator that those communities – in turn – are doing well.

Early childhood providers have played a critical role during the pandemic as essential workers – staying open when others closed to ensure children were in safe and quality early learning experience so their families could work. And the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated existing disparities in childcare. Years of underinvestment in childcare met with the challenges of the pandemic underscore the difficulty in accessing high-quality childcare.

That’s why our partnership with organizations like the Black Child Development Institute (BCDI) are so important.

The early childhood development community plays a key role in driving United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Child Well-Being Index both in terms of employment and economic mobility as a significant workforce in our state, but also for their role in supporting early language and literacy driving 3rd grade reading.

Given that early childhood education experiences are the first experiences that children have of education outside the home, curricula and values that empower children’s identity and values, and uphold their rights, are of paramount importance. And building leadership capacity within the early childhood profession is essential as the profession is forced to constantly shift due to changing educational, socio-political, health and economic demands.

The early childhood workforce consists of 40% Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), which for many childcare centers, is not representative of the population served. Educators of color tend to hold higher expectations of children of color and are less likely to misdiagnose them as special needs. We are supporting the work to not only increasing the diversity of the early childhood workforce in general, but more specifically early childhood leadership.

Leadership sets the tone and more early childhood leaders of color are needed to ensure that children are cared for in culturally responsive environments. In this challenging time for staffing for early childhood centers, having leadership that reflects the workforce is also important when it comes to recruitment and retention.

Recruitment and retention through knowledge and capacity building, promotion and succession planning will shape a cadre of professionals who can lead and advocate for more culturally responsive policies and practices that are reflective of the children and families they serve.

Learn more about United Way of Greater Atlanta and the Black Child Development Institute (BCDI).

 

This story was previously published on SaportaReport.com.

May 5, 2021—United Way of Greater Atlanta, through the support of the Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation, today announces grants totaling $2,546,000 have been awarded to organizations forming the Literacy and Justice for All collaborative. The Literacy and Justice for All collaborative will serve as a model for the region in addressing inequities that face far too many children and families across Greater Atlanta. Learn4Life will provide coordination for the collaborative with support from United Way of Greater Atlanta.

“As United Way of Greater Atlanta works to put our community’s children on an equitable path to fulfilling their potential, investing in efforts that improve educational outcomes for children by addressing the factors beyond school that often get in the way of success is critical. When children are not reading by the 3rd grade, it limits their opportunities in school, in work, and in life. They are four times more likely to drop out of high school. If we want an educated, skilled workforce tomorrow and a competitive edge, we must have strong learners today.” says United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Chief Community Impact Officer, Katrina D. Mitchell.

Third-grade reading proficiency is one of six community-level indicators that Learn4Life has identified as the keys to achieving a cradle-to-career vision of success for every child. Executive Director Kenneth Zeff emphasized the role these partnerships can serve to inform the region, “We are energized by the support for collective impact in our region. Marietta City Schools and its partners are responding to the regional need to redouble our efforts to get all students on track following the pandemic.” The Learn4Life network will use this opportunity to support the partners on this learning journey in Marietta and scale best practices across the region.

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Ending disparities has been the guidepost for United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Child Well-Being Agenda, which has focused on addressing the systemic issues that put Greater Atlanta at the bottom of the list of U.S. cities in terms of opportunity and mobility for low-income children and make a child’s zip code of birth their destiny. For two years running, Bloomberg has called Atlanta “the capital of inequality.”

By August 1, the Literacy and Justice for All collaborative aims to build a comprehensive, cross-sector grant partnership that is designed to effectively reach each child in our communities — from the third trimester of pregnancy through reading proficiency by the end of 3rd grade. Each experience matters during the early years of development – the years in which our children must count on us the most. Every child whose life we change will go on to change the lives of countless other children, families and communities. And when we work together — pooling our resources, time and energy — our community impact grows exponentially to create an equitable future for all. Together, with the help of our partners, we can do more.

A full listing of grantees includes:

Learn4Life – to support the collaborative and shared learning for the region.

Rollins Center for Language and Literacy at the Atlanta Speech School  to provide training and professional development in the areas of healthy brain development, language, literacy and the science of reading across the birth – 8 continuum.

Cobb Collaborative – to support early literacy ambassadors and trauma-informed training.

Kennesaw State University – to support professional development within early childhood education settings throughout the city of Marietta.

Marietta City Schools – to support professional development and resources for K-3 classrooms

Quality Care for Children – to support professional development within early childhood education settings throughout the City of Marietta.

About United Way of Greater Atlanta
United Way of Greater Atlanta, the largest United Way in the nation, focuses on ensuring that every child in Greater Atlanta has the opportunity to reach his or her full potential. The organization invests in more than 200 programs in 13 counties through the Child Well-Being Impact Fund and works to help children succeed in school, improve financial stability of families, provide affordable and accessible healthcare and end homelessness. For more information, visit www.unitedwayatlanta.org.