Our research indicates one key fact over and over again: EDUCATION is a critical part of the solution to every quality of life concern in South Mississippi. In particular, if we as a community of diverse partners and resources focus on early childhood education, school readiness, quality childcare, and mentoring, we can change the landscape of our community in countless ways. Education’s tie to economic development and the future of our state and region are clear. The business, non-profit, and public sectors must act now, and we must act together as an army for change.
1 in 4 Mississippi public school students do not graduate from high school, contributing to a $1.6 billion annual loss of lifetime earnings. 90% of welfare recipients are high school dropouts. Alliance for Excellent Education/National Center for Education Statistics
Mississippi ranks last in K-12 student achievement, compared to other states. Education Research Center
Research shows that for every $1 spent on quality early childhood education, $16 would be returned to the state in reduction of services required to remedy crime, poverty, unemployment and medical costs. Fight Crime:Invest in Kids’ report,Pay Now or Pay Much More Later
The IQ of a child can be increased by as much as 25% when stimulation is provided to them prior to age 5. Approximately 20% of Mississippi children are not enrolled in kindergarten and more than 50% are not enrolled in preschool. Education Research Center
A child's brain is 90% developed by age 5. Success by 6
For every $1 that is spent on Mississippi students under the age of 18, $5 is spent on its prisoners. Foundation for Excellence in Education
Findings from our research, our partners, and dozens of community listening sessions have led United Way of South Mississippi to a recommitment to education and school readiness. We will increase funding, build collaborative workgroups, seek new grants, and focus our volunteer center on mentoring and other opportunities that will make a difference in the lives of our children.
United Way of South Mississippi’s Board of Directors has chosen to invigorate our concentration on education programs, in addition to remaining steadfast in our support of local income and health initiatives. This is changing the way our organization does business in exciting ways. We will stop putting Band-Aids on our problems by supporting as many nonprofits as we can; we will instead focus on improving the root cause of a problem, and we’re beginning now with early childhood education.
The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
One way we are focusing on education is by becoming a charter member of The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. The Campaign for GLR is a collaborative effort by dozens of funders and nonprofit partners across the nation to ensure that more of our low-income children succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career and active citizenship. The Campaign focuses on the most important predictor of school success and high school graduation-- grade-level reading by the end of 3rd grade.
Schools play a huge role in this, but school cannot succeed alone. Ensuring the academic success of children from low-income families will require a focus beyond school. It will require engaged communities mobilized to remove barriers, expand opportunities, and assist parents in fulfilling their roles and responsibilities to serve as full partners in the success of their child.
How You Can Help
Join the movement to make sure our children go to school ready to learn! Here are a few ways: