(April 10, 2017) – United Way of Southern Kentucky announced today a new collaborative partnership with U.S. Bank in support of Kindergarten Readiness.

After an extensive 18-months of research into the needs in our community that began in 2012, United Way of Southern Kentucky identified Kindergarten Readiness as an issue on which to take a greater focus. From the research, United Way discovered that 50% of local children in Southern Kentucky are entering kindergarten on day one deemed ‘not ready’ to succeed. Since that time and discovery, United Way has set a bold goal of increasing the number of children who are ready for kindergarten to 75% by the year 2020. In order to reach this goal, United Way has also adjusted its funding structure to allow for 20% of annual funding to impact this particular area specifically targeted at Kindergarten Readiness programs.

In order to truly move the needle in this area and meet the goal set forth, United Way understood that efforts would be required to go beyond just the funding of programs and began to launch a Kindergarten Readiness awareness campaign to help educate parents about how to better prepare their children for day one of kindergarten.

As part of this effort, United Way is encouraging parents to READ, PLAY, COUNT, and LOG OFF with their children. Parents can log onto the United Way microsite MyChildIsReady.com to find information to determine if their child is kindergarten ready and if not, how they can adapt everyday activities to increase the level of their child’s readiness.

U.S. Bank has long been a partner with United Way, supporting the work of the organization in a variety of avenues. Upon learning of the new work in kindergarten readiness, a new partnership has been formed to support those efforts in particular.

“In the past, U.S. Bank has supported United Way through a variety of activities such as: company workplace campaigns; a partnership with WKU Athletics and the annual White Out football game; title sponsorship of the annual Balloon Classic; participation in volunteer activities and events like Feed the Need, the Day of Caring and numerous committees; and various other events. We feel this new collaboration is a natural evolution of U.S. Bank’s ongoing commitment to our community and support of United Way’s work. In addition to our prior commitments, we are now looking at a partnership that targets moving the needle on the issues that United Way is working to impact every day – in particular kindergarten readiness. By partnering with United Way to move towards meeting their bold goal of 75% of children ready to enter kindergarten on day one by the year 2020, we are able to measure our ongoing efforts and results over time,” says Craig Browning, Regional President of U.S. Bank.

As part of U.S. Bank’s ongoing partnership with United Way of Southern Kentucky, their support will provide for the title sponsorship of the upcoming Handbags for Hope purse auction on June 8th, of which all of the proceeds will benefit Early Childhood Education programs. Their support will also supplement the awareness campaign to promote the actions to READ, PLAY, COUNT, and LOG OFF to parents via print, TV, radio, and other medias. They will also partner with United Way and WKU Athletics during the Day of Caring on a large volunteer project that will focus specifically on education (details to come on June 7th via press conference).

“We are excited for this new way of looking at our partnership with United Way of Southern Kentucky in order to make an impact in the lives of children as they enter kindergarten. While previous partnerships through events such as the Balloon Classic will be missed, we will continue to support United Way through our workplace campaign efforts, corporate sponsorships, and volunteerism. By adding the kindergarten readiness collaboration component, we feel this longer term support and partnership will create a more measurable impact in our goal of creating change in our community and ultimately provide stronger results for improving lives.”

Debbie Hills, President & CEO of United Way of Southern Kentucky says, “U.S. Bank is a true example of what it means to be a community partner. Their strengthened support of our work via kindergarten readiness will lay the foundation for the future generations that will impact our community for years to come. We are impressed by their foresight into the impact that this new way of looking at business and nonprofit partnerships can have on moving the needle in important causes. It makes good business sense for any partnership wishing to make an impact on their community to continue to re-evaluate the efforts being put forth and seek out opportunities to ensure that they are creating measurable results. ”

For more information about United Way’s work in Kindergarten Readiness, log on to the United Way of Southern Kentucky website at www.liveunitedtoday.com.  

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.