Family Literacy Program Gets United Way
Social Innovation Fund Grant
Southwest Solutions is one of eleven local organizations awarded multi-year grants from the United Way for Southeastern Michigan to support early childhood education initiatives that are making a difference in the community.
The grants in total (to all the organizations) amount to $8M and are funded through $4M from the Social Innovation Fund (SIF) and an investment from the General Motors Foundation for the Networks of Excellence.
The grant to Southwest Solutions will support an initiative in our Early Childhood and Family Literacy program that serves low-income, non-English-speaking families with children in kindergarten through third grade. The initiative is called English Language Learners Program (ELLP).
ELLP allows parents to spend time in their children’s classroom to help them with schoolwork. Parents both learn with their children and learn to support their children’s learning. During adult education classes, parents learn English using the same curriculum as their children.
With the United Way SIF grant, in combination with funding from the Ford Motor Company Fund, PNC Bank Foundation and the Supporting Opportunity Foundation, Southwest Solutions will operate the ELLP model in four elementary schools in southwest Detroit this fall.
Southwest Solutions has had great success with this model in helping families improve their literacy. A study by the National Council for Family Literacy (NCFL) in 2009 rated our ELLP program "outstanding" and found that children in the program significantly improved their overall academic performance, self-confidence, classroom behavior, social skills, and family support. The study also found that parents participating in ELLP significantly increased the time devoted to reading to their children.
“We know that family involvement changes the academic outcomes for all children in the family and promotes a culture of literacy in the community,” said Donna Cielma, director of Children, Youth and Families at Southwest Solutions. “ELLP is proven as an effective model and the United Way grant is important to sustain and further this valuable program.”
In addition to Southwest Solutions, the other organizations selected to receive United Way SIF grants are:
"These organizations represent a diverse cross-section of community partners who share a common goal: to prepare children to become proficient readers and, ultimately, to provide them with the building blocks they need for a successful life," said Michael J. Brennan, president and CEO of United Way for Southeastern Michigan (UWSEM), in announcing the grant awards in early April.
UWSEM received a Social Innovation Fund grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service last August. SIF aims to improve the lives of people in low-income communities by mobilizing public and private resources to grow promising and innovative community-based solutions in three primary areas: economic opportunity, healthy futures, and youth development.
The SIF grant to the United Way provides $2M a year for five years to support, expand and evaluate early childhood programs in metro Detroit. The grant has a 1:1 matching requirement, and the investment by the General Motors Foundation fulfills that condition.
“We are committed to ensuring our children are prepared as they enter kindergarten and continue to have the resources needed to succeed in high school and beyond,” said Chris Perry, vice president of Global Chevrolet Marketing and Strategy at General Motors.