United Way of Greater Nashua has awarded $3,000 in one-year funding to the Girls Incorporated of New Hampshire for its Early Learning Center at the Nashua facility on Burke Street.
The Early Learning Center provides an affordable, year-round preschool program with extended hours to serve working families with annual incomes at or below the poverty level. Currently, 18 of the center’s 20 slots are held by children from low-income households, subsidized in part by United Way. The Center prepares preschoolers academically and socially for kindergarten and offers a safe, affordable way for parents to provide the same opportunities for their children as those in higher income brackets.
In presenting its program proposal to United Way community investment volunteers, Girls Inc. cited Nashua teacher surveys from 2012 that revealed 39 percent of the 789 kindergarten students that year were not ready for kindergarten. Girls Inc. quoted Marcia Bagley, preschool director for the Nashua School District, as noting, “At Amherst Street School, nearly three-quarters of incoming kindergarten students were not adequately prepared, based on teacher feedback.” Birch Hill and Broad Street elementary schools showed 38 and 21 percent of students not ready for school, respectively, and the lowest figure for any school was 8 percent, at Charlotte Avenue Elementary, the proposal stated.
“Research indicates that earlier intervention is better for children’s language development, independence skills, and social skills,” said Girls Inc. CEO Cathy Duffy Cullity. “In New Hampshire, kindergarten teachers have to work on these things with children who could have been developing these skills if they had been enrolled in preschool.”
The Center’s theme-based curriculum ties into the children’s interests. Every theme includes the following domains: math; literacy; science; creative arts; and physical and social skills.
United Way community investment volunteers gave the Early Learning Center high marks for its integration with other Girls Inc. programs that receive United Way funding: the Burke Street Café, which provides a hot, nutritious breakfast, lunch, and dinner to each child attending the Center; and the Girls Center after-school program, where girls participating in the preschool can continue after school once they enter elementary school.
“By investing in the Burke Street Early Learning Center, United Way of Greater Nashua will be helping young children from low-income families develop academically, socially, and physically,” said Rod Hansen, chairman of the 2014-15 United Way community investment process.
United Way donors volunteer to review program funding proposals from local non-profit organizations and award grants based on how well the programs address priority needs in the community. The Burke Street Early Learning Center is one of six programs that United Way of Greater Nashua approved for one-year funding during the second year of its three-year investment cycle. Funding for another 22 programs was renewed automatically based on the merits of those proposals that were approved in 2013 for three years of support.
“United Way’s three-year community investment process provides a reliable source of funding for agencies, aids in planning, and can serve as leverage for nonprofits seeking larger grants from other sources,” said Liz Fitzgerald, United Way’s director of community impact. “Our entire community benefits from sustained, quality non-profit services and a strong safety net.”
United Way-funded programs are expected to serve about 9,200 Greater Nashua residents this year. In addition, several thousand people in the area will be helped by programs that receive support via designated gifts made through United Way’s fundraising campaign.
To view the list of funded programs, visit www.unitedwaynashua.org/community and select impact area (Safety Net, Transitional Housing, or Our Community’s Health). To learn more about needs and investments specific to a community in United Way of Greater Nashua’s service area, select the region (Hudson-Litchfield, Merrimack, Nashua, or Souhegan Valley).
Many thanks to all donors whose support makes it possible for United Way to invest in important programs that meet community needs.
To support effective services in Greater Nashua like the Burke Street Early Learning Center, make a donation today.