When the United Way of Central Massachusetts organized its recent $1 Million Community Challenge—a Shark Tank-like search for bold community initiatives—they made early childhood a priority.
It’s a positive sign for Worcester, says Eve Gilmore, Executive Director of Edward Street, which helped recruit organizations to enter the Challenge and advised on their video submissions.
“There’s a growing awareness about the importance of early childhood,” she said. “Together, we’re building towards a better future for children, families and the community.”
WCAC to boost economic mobility for young families
How can families get ahead when they keep falling off a cliff? They qualified for childcare assistance yesterday but, after the smallest of salary increases, are no longer eligible.
The Worcester Community Action Council wants to change this cliff to an off ramp, to promote economic mobility for young families. Dedicated coaches will help parents navigate changing financial circumstances and provide direct payments for unexpected bills and childcare expenses.
Onsite Vegetable Gardens and Healthy Meals and Snacks from REC
Fresh veggies for everyone! The Regional Environmental Council will not only deliver locally grown foods directly to early childhood programs in Worcester; REC will also collaborate with programs to design and install onsite vegetable gardens.
Young children who attend these programs can enjoy the many benefits of gardening, including healthy meals and snacks made from produce they grew themselves, and additional bounty to share with parents, caregivers, and siblings at home.
FSCM’s Project Flourish to help early educators grow
How can you strengthen Worcester’s early learning and care programs? By supporting early educators.
Project Flourish, Family Services of Central Massachusetts’ Center for Childcare Careers new early childhood apprenticeship program, will provide bilingual instruction and skilled mentoring for newly licensed family childcare providers and newly hired assistants.
Interactive music workshops with Crocodile River Music
Well known for introducing Worcester residents of all ages to African music and arts, Crocodile River Music can now provide after school programming as well. A series of workshops will culminate in a concert performance featuring youth and the Crocodile River Music team.
Urban Parks Education Program to help young children enjoy nature
Naturalist training for early educators? You bet. All the footwear and clothing children need to explore nature? Yes, that too.
The Urban Parks Education Program is set to partner with schools and early learning and care programs to help young ones experience the natural world. Why? Because it builds confidence, encourages creativity, and gets children moving.
Initiatives like these are a step in the right direction, said United Way of Central Massachusetts President & CEO Tim Garvin.
“As a community, we need to do a better job supporting young children and families,” he said. “These programs will improve access to learning and care, increase parental engagement, encourage better pay for educators, and strengthen links between center-based and family-run programs.”
See the full list of winners at unitedwaycm.org.
To support Edward Street’s ongoing efforts in the community, donate today.