(March 22, 2017) – The United Way Born Learning Academy is an innovative program that meets a critical need in Kentucky communities – early childhood parental education. This school-based Academy consists of six free workshop sessions one night after school each month that provide parents with the tools to help their children succeed in kindergarten and beyond.

The goal of the Academy is to help prepare children for kindergarten by teaching parents and caregivers how to turn everyday moments into learning opportunities. The tools are easy, sometimes as simple as talking about the colors of the trucks that pass by while parent and child head to the grocery store. The school-based workshops allow a meaningful conversation to start with parents early, offering them the essential building blocks of education to support their child’s future academic successes and to create a strong connection between home and school.

Parents of young children (up to five years old) are engaged in hands-on activities and discussion at each workshop about what it means to be ready for kindergarten and offered strategies they can use at home to maximize their child’s early learning and development. The intentional placement of a school setting allows for parents and children to gain insight and a level of comfort needed to help transition into school later. This is also an opportunity for school leaders to get to know the family and their needs – all leading to long-standing and positive parent-teacher relationships.

In addition to the information provided at the free workshops, each location also provides dinner for the families at no charge and door prizes at the conclusion of each workshop. Though it is encouraged that parents and children attend every workshop, it is not required.

The 2016-17 Born Learning workshops began in schools across Southern Kentucky in October, 2016. A combined graduation ceremony for the participants in the workshops held at Dishman McGinnis Elementary, Parker Bennet Elementary, and TC Cherry Elementary will be at the Bowling Green Independent School District Professional Development and Learning Center (formerly Dishman McGinnis Elementary) on March 27th at 5:00pm.

Six sessions have previously been held at each school location mentioned above leading up to the combined graduation.

There are currently 14 total Born Learning Academies across Southern Kentucky. In addition to those listed above, Born Learning Academies have also been held at Lost River Elementary, Adairville School, Bonnieville Elementary, Franklin Elementary, Morgantown Elementary, Lewisburg School, R.E. Stevenson Elementary, Auburn Elementary, Chandlers Elementary, Olmstead Elementary, and Tompkinsville Elementary. While the program at Dishman McGinnis receives funding through a grant from Toyota, Born Learning Academies at Auburn Elementary, Chandler Elementary, and Olmstead Elementary receive funding directly from United Way of Southern Kentucky. The remaining schools currently receive funding for the program from the Race to the Top Grant provided by the U.S. Department of Education and the Kentucky Governor’s Office.

For information on the Born Learning Academy future workshops, please contact the school providing the program directly.

United Way of Southern Kentucky (UWSK) is a local, independent, non-profit organization that works to identify and address the issues that matter most, change conditions and improve lives. The mission of United Way of Southern Kentucky is to be the leader in bringing together the resources to build a stronger, more caring community. United Way is focused on the building blocks for good quality of life – Education, Income, Health and Safety Net. Therefore, the vision of United Way is a Southern Kentucky where all residents are educated, healthy, and financially stable. Incorporated as a charitable non-profit entity in 1956, UWSK has long served a major role in the community by bringing people together to create opportunities that make a measurable difference in the quality of life for people where they live and work.