United Way of Westchester & Putnam Expands Project Boosting Parent Engagement for School Readiness Thanks to Assemblymember Mayer

January 22, 2018

Alana Sweeny, President & CEO of the United Way of Westchester and Putnam, with Assemblymember Shelley Mayer reviewing a "100 Days of Learning" deck of cards that parents will use to foster school readiness in preschool children.

Westchester, NY The United Way of Westchester and Putnam announced today that it had been awarded a $5,000 New York State grant, thanks to the work of Assemblymember Shelley Mayer. The funding will allow the United Way to expand its Parent Engagement for School Readiness project which fosters school readiness and reading skills in preschool children.

The United Way of Westchester and Putnam is the local branch of the national non-profit whose mission is to support people and families on the path to self-sufficiency so that the whole community thrives. The non-profit also works to tackle the root causes of continued poverty in our communities, such as ensuring that children are at reading level by the 3rd grade, a strong indicator of later academic success.

The Parent Engagement for School Readiness project provides parents with a "100 Days of Learning" deck of cards containing 200 activities they can do with their preschool children that strengthens the child's reading and other academic skills. Each card is written in both English and Spanish in order to serve the large Spanish-speaking community living in Westchester County. The United Way of Westchester and Putnam will work on distributing the decks of cards in Yonkers through the many programs targeting families with children ages 0-5, including Yonkers Basics, My Brother's Keeper and the many non-profit organizations serving low-income younger children. The $5,000 state grant Assemblymember Mayer secured for the United Way of Westchester and Putnam project will allow the non-profit to distribute the "100 Days of Learning" decks of cards to 2,000 additional families in Yonkers.

"I am pleased that I was able to assist the United Way of Westchester and Putnam by providing the tools to help young children improve their school readiness skills," said Assemblymember Shelley Mayer. "I can't think of a more tangible benefit to parents than providing them with the cards to help them read and talk with their young children. I commend the United Way of Westchester and Putnam for creating a low-cost program that can have a significant impact on preschool children's school readiness."

"Parents are their child's first teacher. By talking to their children, they are actually growing their brains and providing a foundation for future success. Unfortunately, despite loving parents, children in poverty come to school having heard 30 million fewer words than their middle class peers," said Alana Sweeny, President and CEO of the United Way of Westchester and Putnam. "By providing suggestions of activities for parents to use with their children through the '100 Days of Learning' deck of cards, we strive to close that gap."

The United Way of Westchester and Putnam is committed to helping high-need communities with childhood literacy and offers many volunteering and mentoring opportunities for those who are interested. To volunteer or learn more about the United Way of Westchester and Putnam, visit their Web site.

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An example of activities provided for parents in the "100 Days of Learning" deck of cards used to foster school readiness in preschool children.

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A box of "100 Days of Learning" decks of cards.