Students at Whittier Elementary School in Waukesha.
Written By Meghan Marsden Parsche, United Way Volunteer
December 5, 2017
Every child deserves the opportunity to succeed. Since there is a clear link between community support and the success of children, an initiative known as Helping Kids Succeed is connecting community resources to schools in Waukesha, enhancing the educational experience and improving outcomes for students.
Helping Kids Succeed began in 2005 as an effort to help reduce risky behaviors that were causing barriers to kids' success. Originally, the initiative was focused on increasing parental engagement, a key factor affecting a child’s performance at school. This year, the initiative was expanded with input from the community.
Early in the year, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County sought feedback directly from those most closely involved in education in Waukesha County to identify how the initiative can best meet the needs of kids. During three separate Community Conversations sessions, students from Waukesha South High School, teachers from Whittier Elementary School, and school principals and administrators from across the district were asked what they felt were barriers to success for Waukesha students. A few common themes emerged, and goals were formed to address these barriers.
The 2017 goals for Helping Kids Succeed include supporting educators, increasing student achievement, enhancing family stability and empowerment, and improving community engagement and awareness. The United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County has invited the School District of Waukesha to apply for funding to support these goals through one or more projects.
“Schools do their best work when kids come ready to learn,” says Jim McLaughlin, United Way Education Portfolio Manager. “Our aim is to channel funding where the need is greatest so educators can free up their attention toward what they do best – helping children reach their full potential.”
Three tangible, impactful projects were chosen and awarded a total of $65,000 in grants.
- P.A.T.H., a program of Family Service of Waukesha ($35,000) puts psychotherapists in schools to support educators’ efforts to meet students’ psychological, social, and emotional needs. The therapists can provide clinical services to students with a diagnosis, drop-in sessions to students without a diagnosis, and consultation to school staff.
- Playworks' TeamUp program ($25,000) helps schools create play environments that help kids be their best. As a recess intervention program, Team Up makes recess more structured, supports teachers, helps students build leadership skills and reduces misbehavior during recess by helping students to problem solve and engage in building positive school culture.
- ERAs Senior Network ($5,000) assists students and engages volunteers through an intergenerational experience. Seniors can serve as reading buddies, pen pals, and sources for oral history projects.
The programs target the eight highest-need schools in the Waukesha School District – those where 50% or greater of the students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. The programs have been implemented in schools, and data will be collected over the school year to measure impact.
We look forward highlighting each of Helping Kids Succeed programs in future blog posts by sharing the stories of the educators and students benefitting from them.
It's not too late to support initiaitves like Helping Kids Succeed by making a gift to United Way's Community Fund. Give now.
Meghan Marsden Parsche is a proud United Way supporter, stay at home mom to her four young children, and volunteer writer for United Way. Meghan enjoys telling the stories of the programs and people making a positive impact on our community.