Create More Opportunity for All Kids

Every child deserves a high-quality education. Why?

The impact of lacking a high-quality education can start early. Kids who are not strong readers by third grade are less likely to graduate from high school. The consequences stack up from there. High school dropouts are more likely to be arrested, struggle to find employment and face health challenges. United Way of Central Illinois fights to put every child on the path to get the training and knowledge they need. 

Education is a fundamental right. 

All kids deserve access to a high-quality education. But sometimes that access is different depending on what neighborhood a child is from or how much money their family earns. 

For kids under the age of five, not having that access could mean falling behind their classmates for their entire academic careers, leading to missed opportunities beyond high school and in the job market. 

When you support United Way, you help give our youngest community members access to the high-quality education they deserve. 

The Impact of Poverty on Kids

One in five children under five years old are from families who live in under-resourced neighborhoods.1

The stress of living in situations where adults are struggling to make ends meet takes a toll on kids. Children may experience food insecurity, a lack of safety or other negative environmental influences. 

Research shows that kids from these environments can experience: 

  • lower brain activity2 
  • increased challenges in social-emotional development, 
  • health problems 
  • developmental delays.3

High Cost of Care and Early Education

Even when high-quality education is available, it may be financially out of reach for families who have a lower income. Currently, the average cost of childcare and pre-kindergarten education is over $10,000.4,5 

Why High-Quality Education Matters

Kids are born curious. Even as infants, they are taking in information, processing it and learning from it. The right encouragement to learn from an early age is critical for kids. 

Multiple studies show that 90 percent of a child’s brain develops before they are five years old.6 

That means in those formative years, children are making more neural connections and developing faster than in any other time in their lives.

How much can kids learn at such a young age? Some experts say that even when kids are playing, they are developing skills in language, executive functions, mathematics and spatial language, scientific thinking, and social-emotional areas that they will use as adults.7

Having adults – whether they be parents, caregivers or teachers – who are informed and ready to engage with children helps prepare them for kindergarten and reach important milestones in later grades. 

United Way’s Role

United Way of Central Illinois supports giving access to high-quality childhood education to all children – especially those from under-resourced neighborhoods. We make care and pre-K education more affordable, support professional development for educators and daycare center staff members and provide tips for parents on how to support the development of their children. 

But this is not just our fight. Because change doesn’t happen alone. The challenges we face are complex. They don’t have easy answers and can last months, years and even generations. We need the support of local businesses, other nonprofits organizations and people like you to create lasting change.

When you support United Way of Central Illinois you join the fight for:

  1. A strong start for all babies. Being a new parent is hard and expensive. We’re helping local parents and caretakers have the knowledge and resources they need to make sure all babies reach important developmental milestones.
  2. Support for all teens. Having someone in your corner can be life-changing, especially for teens who do not have stable adult role models. We ensure every teen has a supportive adult in their life to help them navigate academic and personal challenges. 
  3. Making college affordable. A college degree can lead to more job opportunities and higher salaries. The cost of college shouldn’t stand in the way of a brighter future. With our match and save program, we are making it easier for anyone to cover the cost of college.

Please join us in finding solutions to our community’s biggest social crises. When you give to United Way of Central Illinois you make it possible to change lives in our community and strengthen our region overall. 

Your generosity to help sustain programs in our community is now more important than ever. Help more kids get the strong start they deserve by donating to United Way of Central Illinois.

Thank you for joining the fight. 


1Kids Count Data Center

2University of East Anglia via Science Daily

3American Psychology Association


6National Center for Biotechnology Information

7The National Association for the Education of Young Children

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