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    Pre-K program expands reach
    UW’s Success by 6 ‘jump starts’ kids

    By Courtney Anderson
    Herald Staff Writer

    MERCER COUNTY —

    While the children in Success by 6 classrooms are busy learning letters, counting and important social skills, here are some program numbers for you:

    • $95,700 in donations and grants.

    • 11 school districts.

    • 218 prospective kindergartners.

    • $439 per student.

    • $14.63 per day.

    • $3.25 per hour.

    Glancing at the figures, it’s obvious that the program is a wise investment. Those youngsters learning to take turns and tie their shoes are the workforce of tomorrow.

    The United Way of Mercer County has expanded the Success by 6 initiative from 7 school districts to 11 in its third year, more than doubling the number of area pre-kindergartners getting a jump-start academically, socially and emotionally.

    The state’s been pushing for early childhood education; thanks to the United Way, Mercer County’s ahead of the curve

    Donations to Success by 6 are an investment in economic development and changing the quality of life in the area, said 2005 campaign chairman Richard Epstein.

    “If we prepare people to be successful, it’s going to help us all,” said Mercer Superintendent Dr. Bill Gathers at the United Way annual meeting Wednesday.

    And in keeping with the United Way’s effort to meet the community’s needs, they’ve got proof that the program is working.

    Kindergarten screenings identify students who might benefit from the program. Students are tested at the beginning and end of the 6-week summer program and districts also track their progress as they move through school.

    Educators also track students identified for the program but not enrolled and have found quite a discrepancy between skill levels.
     
    Success by 6 is a joint collaboration between United Way of Mercer County and the Brookfield, Farrell, Greenville, Grove City, Hermitage, Lakeview, Mercer, Reynolds, Sharon, Sharpsville, and West Middlesex school districts, Mercer County Head Start, Northern Mercer County United Way, Grove City United Way, Shenango Valley Foundation, Northern Mercer County Community Foundation, Grove City Foundation and West Central Job Partnership.
     
    The $95,000 the United Way allocated to the Success by 6 initiative goes toward student transportation, teacher stipends and food, though local shops also donate some items.
     
Last Modified on June 2, 2008