United Way of Central Indiana says it will award a total of more than $600,000 to two elementary schools in some of the region's neediest areas. The organization says the funding will support efforts including family outreach and afterschool and summer programs for low-income families.

June 3, 2014

News Release

Indianapolis, Ind. — United Way of Central Indiana is awarding two under-performing public elementary schools in some of the region's neediest areas grants totaling $613,410 to improve student outcomes over three years, the organization announced today.

The formal presentation is tomorrow (June 4), and marks the second time United Way has awarded competitive grants to public schools for an investment of almost $1.5 million

Harrison Hill Elementary in Lawrence Township is receiving the largest award, $436,710. United Way's Student Success grant will fund the Harmony Program to better connect families with resources and provide afterschool and summer programs to give kids exposure to art, music and sports.

Using the funds, Harrison Hill will focus on families living in generational poverty or who have experienced significant trauma. The program will improve student achievement by supporting students and their families with underlying issues such as poor attendance, inappropriate and violent behaviors, and below grade-level performance.

Family support will be offered to connect families with resources through a social worker and family outreach coordinator. In addition to the afterschool and summer programming, students will be provided academic support. Finally, the funds will help build staff capacity to work with students who have undergone trauma or lived in significant poverty.

In Decatur Township, Stephen Decatur Elementary will be awarded $176,700 to help the school become Indiana's first full-fledged Expeditionary Learning School.

The model challenges students to think critically and take active roles in their classrooms and communities, to result in higher achievement and greater engagement in school.

The curriculum will be transformed into 6-12 week investigations into compelling topics that target essential standards in meaningful work that make the learning come alive. For example, students could analyze the effects of erosion at a local park, publish books about the planets or build compost bins for gardening in the school’s courtyard.

The schools were selected from among 19 applicants who had to have fewer than 75 percent of students passing ISTEP+ math and English language assessments and at least 30 percent of students qualifying for free and reduced lunch.

For some years, United Way has been working with schools and children to improve the high school graduation rate by focusing on two goals: helping more children be prepared to succeed when they start school and passing standardized literacy and math ISTEP tests by the sixth grade.

A common theme among schools partnering with United Way is that most feel hampered from using approaches that teachers and principals know will work, United Way reported. The Student Success grants respond to that concern.

United Way has previously invested in elementary school strategies that include volunteer reading, tutoring and mentoring; Read by 3, providing classroom teachers with professional literacy coaches; meaningful afterschool programs and activities; community partnerships with schools; and, positive youth development.

While reporting progress with some students, United Way created the Student Success grants to help entire schools turn around by empowering principals and teachers to implement changes that are research-tested and proven.

United Way's focus on education ties to its mission of helping people learn more, earn more and lead safe and healthy lives and overlaps with income, health and basic needs investments.

United Way of Central Indiana helps people learn more, earn more and lead safe and healthy lives. United Way gets things done by mobilizing people and community partners in six Central Indiana counties to identify, advance and advocate the best solutions. LIVE UNITED is a call to action for everyone to be part of the change. Visit uwci.org to learn more.

Source: United Way of Central Indiana

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