Since 2014, Women United has allocated over a half a million dollars in grants through its Little Kids, Big Futures Philanthropy Fund to support early literacy programs across Lake County. The fund gives members the opportunity to allocate their own money to the specific programs they believe in.
Today, we are continuing our blog series that takes a deeper dive into each of the programs receiving funding this year, thanks to Little Kids, Big Futures. Next up, our HUGS Initiative in Waukegan.
HUGS stands for Heroines United for Giving and Support. It’s a special community engagement initiative of Women United where our members embrace a school, project, or community for two to three years with the resources and care it needs to succeed. Then, we move on to “hug” another deserving program.
Women United has already “hugged” the Green Bay Early Learning Center in North Chicago and Baby Talk in Waukegan.
“The HUGS Committee partners with Lake County organizations in order to donate our time and resources to better enhance their programs. Our members really like to dig in to find ways to further the goals of that organization and serve our Lake County community,” said Patrice Maloney-Knauff, WU Chair and HUGS Committee Co-Chair.
Now Women United’s HUGS Committee has started a new partnership with North Preschool, located within North Elementary School in Waukegan. This public program is a year old and is aimed at the children most in need of a preschool experience to ensure they’re ready for kindergarten.
How will we “hug” North Preschool? Women United members will:
- Read in the classrooms.
- Buy and donate teacher-requested and age-appropriate books.
- Support value-added programming that goes beyond what the public school can provide — such as an end-of-school family send-off picnic (with tips and materials to prevent the “summer slide”), parent workshops, holiday events, and teacher celebrations.
We’re in the early stages, so we’re still learning how to meet North’s needs, but we are beyond excited to begin this partnership.
Our first opportunity to connect with students at North Preschool was on the national “Read Across America” day in March. It was great fun to be with the little ones and help instill a love for reading in their hearts.
“The North Pre-K learning community strongly believes that collaborating with Women United/United Way will provide our families with diverse learning experiences,” says Ms. Maribel Carrion, a teacher at North Preschool. “We can’t wait to dive in!”
Women United has a deep affinity for the Waukegan community, providing resources and funding to increase the services available for Waukegan children and families.
Interested in learning more about Women United? Join members on August 22 at 6 – 7:30 p.m., in Libertyville for a Wine & Learn event, an informal gathering for prospective members to learn more about what it means to be a member and what Women United does. Email Janice.Scarbalis@uwlakeco.org to RSVP and we will send you the exact address of the meeting location or visit our event page on Facebook.