WORKING TOGETHER TO HELP THE CHILDREN OF WIMAUMA LEARN TO READ AND SO MUCH MORE
The question was simple: How can local nonprofits pool their resources and creative energy to better help the residents of Wimauma – one of the poorest areas in our region – have more opportunities to prosper?
After the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay brought together many groups already working in the area, one answer emerged: children who are ready for kindergarten and learn to read by third grade have a significantly better chance of getting a good-paying job as adults. The Wimauma Community Education Partnership was born.
The Hillsborough County School District agreed to bring free voluntary prekindergarten (VPK) back to Wimauma.
Community volunteers recruited the families and students. The Community Foundation and others contributed money for enrichment programs such as music and free books. The program expanded to include summer JumpStart programs after kindergarten, first and second grade to continue learning.
SOME RESULTS SO FAR:
VPK and summer JumpStart programs launched at Reddick and Wimauma elementaries. More than 100 children in the programs each summer. About 42 percent of participating second grade students reading at or above grade level – equal to the students in the rest of the district.
BEYOND THE NUMBERS:
One girl entered the VPK program unable to read or speak English. By mid first grade, she was reading at a second-grade level. “She is an example of what this effort is about,” said Chuck Tiernan, Senior Director, Community Impact, at the Community Foundation. “She and every child in the initiative have a much greater chance to complete their educations and succeed in a job with a living wage – all because they were ready to enter kindergarten and learn to read.”