In the 2010-2011 school year, Beechgrove Elementary continued to engage with the pilot year United Way Born Learning Academy graduates through educational field trips. For example, visiting a local grocery store to learn how to make positive nutritional choices, a local toy store in search of educational toys, meeting with doctors from a local hospital to discuss stages of child development and a trip to the local museum to see how to "have fun" while learning. The goal was to keep these parents engaged until their child entered school and then beyond. This was not only a powerful step to improve school readiness--but sent a powerful message to parents.
"The Academy is an excellent strategy for schools to reach out and support school readiness. The key to the success of the workshop series is school ownership and thinking through ways of using existing resources in efficient ways," said Amy Neal, Success By 6 Manager for Northern Kentucky. "It's amazing how the community steps up to help when asked."
At Beechgrove Elementary, Family Resource Center Coordinator Julia Goodman is person the behind the scenes person who made it all happen--from recruiting families, to writing grants, to maintaining communication with families in between sessions, to organizing a graduation to celebrate the project. In year two, Julia was able to secure a $25,000 grant from Cummins Filtration.
"Not only is Beechgrove serious about their students' future, but my husband & I have also had the opportunity to attend the workshops to learn different ways to teach our own children," said Julia. "We want to give them as many advantages to be successful as we can. We have personally learned so much from the workshops and I am excited that other parents are seeing the value in attending the Born Learning Academy at Beechgrove."
Toyota Grant Expansion
Beginning in the 2012-2013 School Year, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky, Inc. (TMMK) and Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America (TEMA) is providing over $1 million in grant funds to United Way of Kentucky to expand the program, under the title "Toyota bornlearning® Academy", which launched in 2012 at 10 Kentucky elementary schools. Toyota committed to funding up to 62 schools in the Commonwealth through the 2016-2017 school year.
“By ensuring that young learners get an early start to their education, we are focusing on quality education that will prepare them for success in life,” said Doug Eberhart, former president of United Way of Kentucky. “We are grateful for Toyota’s investment in, and long-term commitment to, education in Kentucky.”
Leea Martin Slinker of Hiseville, mother of two sons under age five, attended Hiseville Elementary’s Barren County Academy in 2012-2013. “For me, this program has been about creating teaching moments in daily life. It’s understanding opportunities with what a kid is already doing, like talking about patterns by having my daughter choose striped pants or polka-dot pants,” Slinker said. “It’s creating moments out of what’s already there. You don’t have to buy anything, you don’t have to stop and think about it, but it’s about not letting these opportunities pass you by.”
As of July 2014, 34 United Way Born Learning Academies, driven by Toyota are funded in Kentucky, and new Academies are forming in Kentucky, Indiana and West Virginia through funding from Toyota and other partners.