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Annual Report - Student Success

Wednesday Sep 4th, 2019

United Way of Erie County understands that education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty. That’s why we focus on student success, from birth, providing the resources and supports so all local children have the opportunity to succeed in school… and in life.


—Brings resources into the school building that address the specific barriers preventing students from being successful. A proven, evidence-based strategy that results in academic achievement. Why? Children from low-income households often face multiple barriers to learning that go beyond the capacity of the traditional school district’s resources.

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  • Our community schools are exceeding PA Value-added Assessment System (PVAAS) by up to 30% (PA Future Ready Index). PVAAS assesses student growth toward academic achievement over a one year period.
  • 440+ student engagement events aligned with Action Plans to support academic success
  • Nearly 7,500 instances of a parent actively participated in school and/or extracurricular activities
  • An average of 100 programs or services are offered in a community school each quarter
  • 5,400+ volunteers contributing almost 26,000 hours in opportunities created to support Action Plan priorities

(data available for five pilot Community Schools only)

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—Reading proficiently by the end of third grade is one of the most important predictors of high school graduation. Raising Readers, a countywide initiative that is part of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading national movement, focuses on three key areas: School Readiness, School Attendance and Summer Learning. Why? In some local schools, more than 77% of third grade students are NOT reading proficiently at the end of the year. For low income children, this means they are 13 times more likely to drop out of school before graduation.

  • 3,126 students impacted by Be There attendance initiative
  • 500 Kindergarten Readiness Toolkits prepared
  • 7,500+ books collected to be distributed throughout the county during the summer to combat summer slide

Thanks to a Shaping Tomorrow grant by the Erie Community Foundation, Raising Readers is implementing a range of strategies focused on increasing school attendance. One strategy is Safe Routes to School for the five original community schools in the City of Erie. In collaboration with the City of Erie, Erie’s Public Schools, the Blue Coats, community school partners, business owners and residents, safe walking routes are being identified, promoted and monitored for each school to help improve attendance.

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—Delivers a FREE, high quality and age-appropriate book monthly to children from birth to age 5. Why? Early literacy is the foundation of all learning, and research shows that having books in the home increases children’s exposure to reading and language.


Young children who receive Imagination Library books performed significantly better on early literacy tasks and have stronger beginning reading skills. Research conducted by Penn State Behrend’s Susan Hirt Hagen Center for Community Outreach, Research and Evaluation.

  • 21,261 children served to date
  • 644,215 books distributed to date


—Provides scholarships for low-income children to attend high-quality early childhood education centers. Why? Children who attend high-quality preschool are better prepared for kindergarten than their peers who don’t.

  • Up to 66 scholarships available annually
  • On average, 98% of scholars were in process or proficient in five key learning areas: math, science, language/literacy, social/emotional development and learning through playUW 12
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—A national initiative, administered locally by Early Connections. Success By 6 has been leading United Way of Erie County’s Early Care and Education initiative for more than ten years! Success By 6 engages in community, family, and school outreach opportunities locally and across the region to collectively address kindergarten readiness. The initiative consists of professionals working together to positively impact early childhood health, education, and development.

Positive Youth Development 

—Uses 40 Developmental Assets® framework of identified protective factors that have been shown by research to buffer youth from risk. A partnership with Susan Hirt Hagen Center for Community Outreach, Research and Evaluation. Why? The more assets a child has the higher probability that child will not be involved in behaviors such as teen pregnancy, school dropout, substance abuse, delinquency or violence.

  • 7 school districts served
  • 19,014 students impacted

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—A comprehensive career exploration and planning program linking businesses, nonprofit organizations and schools to create and share experiences for students to job shadow, intern, tour companies, benefit from class speakers and participate in career workshops and fairs. Why? When youth better understand the value of work and have clear career aspirations they are better prepared for success in the workplace.

  • 13 school districts served throughout
    Erie County
  • 8,000+ career exploration opportunities

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