Here are photos recapping our Women’s Leadership Council’s signature Power of the Purse fundraising event held on November 5th at the Royal Melbourne Country Club to raise funds for early literacy programs in Lake County.
To view the full photo album, click here.
On November 5th, our Women’s Leadership Council (WLC) held their 12th annual Power of the Purse fundraising event at the Royal Melbourne Country Club in Long Grove. Over 200 women joined together for an afternoon filled with a champagne brunch and an assortment of games to win purses, jewelry, wristlets and much more.
The Women’s Leadership Council of United Way of Lake County is a group of 90+ women with a common commitment to making a difference through philanthropy, leadership and volunteerism. As women who give at the Leadership Level of $1000 or more, this group uses the power of their time, talent and resources to ensure children are prepared for kindergarten and ready to succeed.
The event raises funds for critical early literacy programs that ensure a foundation for strong and successful academic futures in Lake County. As of 2017, nearly $235,000 has been granted to worthy nonprofits. Power of the Purse ensures that more children receive the support they need to be prepared for kindergarten and ready to succeed.
To view photos from this year’s event, click here.
We’d like to thank the following event sponsors for making Power of the Purse possible:
Buy a Book, Build a Future Sponsors
Thank you to the additional Game, Raffle and Decor Sponsors: Arlington Insurance Services, Inc., Zengeler Cleaners, Gentle Dental Care, Peak Performance Action Coach, The Law Office oF Judy K. Maldonado, photos.by.dev and Judge Christy Bishop.
We are excited to share our Leadership Directory recognizing our top supporters. Thanks to their continued support, children and families are on a path for success, and their future success ensures the success of our businesses and communities. For every program, every new initiative and every dollar raised, individual lives are being changed forever.
Click the button below to view our 2016-17 Leadership Directory.
You’re Invited: Power of the Purse
Our Women’s Leadership Council (WLC) invites you to their signature fundraising event on Sunday, November 5th at the Royal Melbourne Country Club in Long Grove. Enjoy a generous champagne brunch and an upbeat afternoon celebrating the special women in your life.
Proceeds from Power of the Purse will go towards the WLC’s Little Kids, Big Futures Philanthropy Fund. As of 2014, $235,000 has been invested in the Lake County community through the Little Kids, Big Futures Philanthropy Fund, an initiative directed by WLC members.
Space is limited. Click the button below to reserve your seat!
Kindergarten Countdown Camp Expands into Beach Park
Kindergarten Countdown Camp (KCC) is an initiative designed to bridge the gap for Lake County’s youngest learners, who have had little to no preschool experience, entering kindergarten this fall.
This summer, we expanded KCC into the Beach Park community serving two classrooms this past August. Each day, the children attending learned key kindergarten skills, such as recognizing shapes, letters, counting and writing their name. Children read books with their teacher and community volunteers to begin developing a love of reading. They also learned how to listen to their teacher, get along with classmates, and understand the routine of school.
During camp, we filmed a Facebook LIVE video capturing the children participating in a water investigation activity led by Kohl Children’s Museum. To view that fun, learning activity, click the button below.
United Way Days: August – September 2017
As the summer comes to a close, we’d like to recognize several companies and organizations that have been busy volunteering their time revitalizing school grounds, reading to students and making a positive impact in the community. We would like to thank and recognize O.C. Tanner, Baxter International, Hollister Incorporated, and ITW for taking time out of their workday to create lasting change in Lake County.
Click the button below to read more about the latest United Way Days that took place in our community in August and September.
Our Continued Partnership with the Chicago Bears
On September 10th, United Way of Lake County had a table at the Chicago Bears home opener game against the Atlanta Falcons. Our staff passed out materials on our education programs and held a raffle for a football autographed by Offensive Lineman, Kyle Long.
For over forty years, the NFL and United Way have partnered to strengthen communities across America. As the longest running collaboration between a major sports league and a nonprofit — the partnership provides a powerful vehicle for change in communities. Locally, United Way of Lake County and the Chicago Bears joined forces to create opportunities that encourage young people to get active and maintain healthy relationships.
Read more about our partnership with the Chicago Bears on our blog.
Summer 2017: Donation Drives
Throughout the summer, companies and local organizations around Lake County hosted donation drives collecting items such as, school supplies, furniture, clothing and much more. United Way of Lake County was able to find a home for these donated items with local schools and community organizations to help children and families in need of these items.
Read more about the donation drives that took place this summer on our blog.
Connect With Us on LinkedIn!
Did you know United Way of Lake County is on LinkedIn? Follow our company page to read the latest news and updates on our programs, volunteer opportunities and upcoming events. Click the button below to follow us!
We are thrilled to share the next post in our Kindergarten Countdown Camp (KCC) summer blog series that kicked off in Waukegan on June 19th. Up next, we have Amy Warrington KCC classroom volunteer sharing her reflection on the first weeks of camp:
My role at camp is basically to help the teachers in any way possible. This has included everything from helping kids learn how to hold a pen to taking them to the nurse. I also participate in class activities and just generally try to be a helping hand.
The most memorable part of my involvement in KCC has been hearing the kids talk about their enthusiasm for “real kindergarten” to start. Many of them have told me how much they love coming to school every day for camp, and I hope that enthusiasm continues as they begin their journey into formal education.
One teacher in particular that has impacted me is Mrs. Feldman. She is one of the most patient, kind people I have had the pleasure of meeting. Even though she always has her hands full with her class of energetic campers, she takes time to talk to the other volunteers and me about our own lives and plans for the future, which we really appreciate.
I do believe KCC is having a really big impact on the children attending. Many of them, on the first day, did not know to raise their hands for a question or how to sit correctly at a desk. I participated in some of the in-take testing and even just a week in, it is impressive how far these kids have come. The fact that they are learning how to “do school” now, instead of when the year starts, gives them a priceless advantage and opportunity to learn even more.
Education, to me, is something that is necessary to succeed today. Most opportunities a person has professionally are as a result of education. Higher education, be it through an apprenticeship, a co-op, or a four year university, education determines the course of an entire person’s life, and it starts here in kindergarten. The basics these kids learn in camp and kindergarten will be built upon for the rest of their educational careers. A strong base is necessary for later success. KCC is an important leveler to give these kids, who may not have as many opportunities as others, that strong base that will be advantageous for later in life.
We are thrilled to share the first post in our Kindergarten Countdown Camp (KCC) summer blog series. KCC kicked off on June 19th at Lyon Magnet Elementary in Waukegan. In our first post, Michelle Crombie, VP of Community Impact, shares her excitement for the first kindergarten camp of the summer:
Summer. Glorious summer is finally here! Long, exciting days filled with… school!
Yes, most of us think of summer as a time to spend away from school, but this week, in Waukegan, nearly 60 four-and-five-year-old children ran, jumped and skipped into their very first school classroom. They were excited, a little nervous, and ready to learn! It was quite a day!
Kindergarten Countdown Camp (KCC) is a free summer program for incoming kindergarten students who have little or no preschool experience. These children are far less likely to start kindergarten with the basic skills they need to keep up with their peers. And studies show that children who start kindergarten behind the rest of the class are likely to stay behind throughout their school years – unless they have some help.
That is why United Way of Lake County developed KCC and presents it in several low-income communities, in partnership with the local school district and with funding from the United Way of Lake County’s Women’s Leadership Council. The camp is taught by licensed, experienced teachers and takes place in a school setting. Volunteers and United Way staff ensure that every child gets the attention they need to improve their skills.
The lessons extend beyond letter recognition and counting. Kids learn to raise their hands, work independently and in groups, and build many other skills that will be key to their school success. And it really works! The assessments at the end of camp consistently show that these children are now better prepared to enter kindergarten.
But if you ask one of the children in KCC, they will tell you that they are there to have fun! And I am happy to report that they do. In the words of one 5-year-old girl, “This is going to be the best summer I ever had!”
I’m glad that summer is finally here, and I’m thrilled that this program will help so many children start on the pathway to success!
Welcome back to the third and final installment of our Better Together series! This program is truly representative of the remarkable change United Way Lake County is working towards within our own community. Ismael Calderón, Success By 6 AmeriCorps VISTA, spent a great deal of time working with Master Teacher, Sharon Lichtenstein, families and children involved in the Better Together Program.
He says of his experience, “Being able to be in the office managing and in the classroom implementing the learning activities, and building that sense of community we dreamed of makes me feel [like] a better, new citizen for this country.”
The community that enrolls in the Better Together Program comes from a diverse background. Working with this group of people was special for Ismael because he has had the opportunity to meet many people over the course of his life, traveling the world and learning what the reality is like in different areas around the globe. In North Chicago, he was impacted by the way in which these families handle the day to day challenges they face. The parents and caretakers, despite any challenges they may have personally, always put their children and their education first. “Their kindness and smiles will always be my best memory and reward,” Ismael said.
He continued, “I remember when Avelina, Isabella’s mother, came up to our program. Isabella was always throwing tantrums and not sharing things with other children or just not complying. [Avelina] had the confidence to talk to us about finding a solution to Isabella’s behavior. We have her some instructions on how to cope with the problem and step by step she started controlling the situation by herself.”
“It is important to emphasize that our objectives are to provide a safe place for each of them to grow and to be comfortable in the company of their parents as they transition to kindergarten, a place where we can live Better Together.”
Read the previous Better Together posts: Building a Community for North Chicago Mothers and Building a Safe Learning Environment for North Chicago Families.
Welcome back to the second installment in our Better Together series. We are thrilled to share the experience of Sharon Lichtenstein, the Master Teacher who developed the curriculum for the program. United Way’s Better Together Program was developed to increase the services available for North Chicago families with children birth to 3-years-old.
When asked about the value of the Better Together Program on the families and children she interacted with, she had this to say:
“[It gives the] opportunity for caregivers and children to be in a rich, safe, and stimulating environment that encourages interactions, exploration, and learning. It is a program that only has yeses. [This program] demonstrates how much more children can learn and accomplish when they are with their “special” grown-up. Learning Games, a Family Engagement Curriculum in English and Spanish, continues the positive learning connections from school to home.”
By offering a safe space for children to interact with one another and their parent or parental figure, Better Together creates a comfortable environment for learning. There are many barriers for families in North Chicago; composed of hard working people who generally earn a lower income than its neighboring towns, the city has long been negatively stigmatized and stereotyped. Despite the challenge, we saw barriers broken and positive change occur in the children and parents who participated.
“The children have taken ownership of the classroom. They easily move throughout the centers and can decide what they want to play with. They have developed an awareness of one another and are often able to engage in parallel play. Some, who spend time together outside of class, are also beginning to play cooperatively. Though I don’t speak Spanish, many of the children have made a connection to me, and offer me toys and/or ask me to play ball with them. They see me as the teacher. I take that as a huge compliment, that they are able to initiate interactions with me. The room is no longer quiet. Children’s excited voices and supportive parents’ interactions have become the norm in the classroom,” said Sharon.
She continued, “families feel supported. All handouts and explanations of activities are in Spanish and English. Understanding the learning that is happening in the classroom becomes easy to understand and support. The families put together an amazing fiesta by themselves to celebrate the ending of the first session. Ismael nor myself initiated this. They demonstrated a great spirit of ownership of the classroom and the learning that took place.”
The Better Together was designed to create positive change and support the families within our own community of Lake County. Bearing witness to the students and families who are exchanging ideas and learning as a part of the program illustrates the tremendous impact it has.
A special thank you to Sharon Lichtenstein for all the incredible work she has done for the children and their families in the first year of Better Together. Check in with us next week to hear our very own Ismael Calderon’s experience being a part of United Way Lake County’s Better Together Program! Missed the last Better Together post? Click here to read.
North Chicago is a city that faces many problems and challenges. Composed of hard working families who generally earn a lower income than its neighboring towns, the city has long been negatively stigmatized and stereotyped. With fewer resources and more trials in front of them, the children from North Chicago face a great disadvantage. Despite this, the community is dedicated to changing the situation by providing opportunities for children to gain the skills necessary for success.
United Way’s Better Together Program was developed to increase the services available for North Chicago families with children birth to 3-years-old. This initiative started in the winter of 2016 and has been made possible through the joint support and effort of the Green Bay Early Childhood Center, Women’s Leadership Council of United Way of Lake County and United Way of Lake County’s Success By 6 Program.
And today we reflect on the impact of this program as we finish our spring 2017 sessions…
Initially, the Better Together Program’s main goal was to educate parents on the important role they play as their children’s first teachers by providing a safe place where their children could play and develop the readiness, physical and cognitive skills crucial to their education. Yet, the program began so much more, moving beyond barriers—such as culture—giving the mothers a true sense of community.
Better Together became a place where parents focused on the growth and well-being of their children, as part of the transition to Kindergarten.
Meet the faces of a few of the mothers involved in the pilot year of Better Together:
Juana and her daughter Camila play using blocks.
Charlyn teaches Gavin the food groups.
Mothers Viridiana, Carolina, Martha and Juana (left to right) socialize while their children play.
The strength of this program comes from the support of our partners, volunteers and Better Together teacher, Ms. Sharon Lichtenstein. Click here for her reflection of the program featured in the next Better Together blog post.
The Women’s Leadership Council (WLC) of United Way of Lake County has become an essential part of the success of our programming in Lake County. The WLC is a group of passionate women united as a driving force to close the gaps in childhood literacy in Lake County.
In 2014, the WLC was reinvigorated to provide a larger platform for engagement and impact. A major piece was the creation of Little Kids, Big Futures Philanthropy Fund through which the membership makes annual grants to worthy early literacy programs. Over the last three years, $137,000 has been granted to support several education programs in Lake County.
This year, the WLC is proud to celebrate the extraordinary achievement of having raised $64,000 for the community. The following programs will receive funding this summer:
The year 2015-2016 has been monumental year for our Women’s Leadership Council as the Little Kids Big Futures Philanthropy Fund has continued to grow. This is attributed to the continued growth and support of WLC through membership and fundraising events.
Thinking ahead to 2016 and beyond, WLC is positioned to continue this remarkable growth and will continue to mobilize women through leadership and resource development to support critical early literacy programs in Lake County’s most vulnerable communities.
For more information about the Women’s Leadership Council visit: www.LIVEUNITEDlakecounty.org/womensleadershipcouncil
WAUKEGAN, ILLINOIS (JUNE 2016) – Waukegan has been honored as a Pacesetter by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading for making measurable progress on eliminating barriers faced by children from low-income families on the path to becoming proficient readers.
“Pacesetter Honors are among the highest awards presented by the Campaign,” said Ralph Smith, the managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. “We are very proud of Waukegan and the numerous organizations and individuals behind them for joining forces and working tirelessly to uplift children and families. They remind us that we are seeing great progress and real results all across the country.”
“The Waukegan Campaign for Grade-Level Reading has brought together many organizations and dedicated individuals with a shared desire to ensure children in our community are successful.” said Michelle Crombie, VP Community Impact, United Way of Lake County. “Because of our strong partnerships, several early learning programs were enhanced in the community”.
Kindergarten Countdown Camp (KCC) identified incoming Waukegan kindergarten students with little to no preschool experience. Camp focused on improving key readiness skills important for students to know prior to the first day of kindergarten. At the end of camp 68% of participants were ‘in progress’ or above in eight key skills. Also, at the start of kindergarten, as measured through our Kindergarten Readiness Assessment, KCC participants average 68% ‘ready’ versus the overall average, 46% (of non-participants).
The Waukegan Collaborative is led by United Way of Lake County in partnership with Waukegan Public School District 60, United Way of Lake County’s Women’s Leadership Council and Kohl Children’s Museum with the common goal towards eliminating the achievement gap for third grade reading between Waukegan schools and the state of Illinois.
Reading proficiency by the end of third grade is a critical milestone toward high school graduation and success later life because it marks the transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” National tests show that two-thirds of U.S. fourth graders (four-fifths of whom are from low-income families) are not reading proficiently. Students who have not mastered reading by that time are more likely to drop out of high school and struggle throughout their lives.
“If we’re going to close the achievement gap, we need mobilized communities – like these Pacesetters – working with schools, city agencies, nonprofits, civic leaders and parents to focus on third-grade reading,” Smith added. “These Pacesetter communities inspire us to believe that great things can happen when all of us support parents, care providers and educators as they work to ensure more hopeful futures for our children.”
Pacesetter Honors have been awarded to communities and partners in the Campaign network since 2012. View the complete list of honorees. This year, 38 Pacesetter communities will be honored at an annual awards luncheon during the Campaign’s 2016 Funder-to-Funder Huddle in Washington, D.C., on April 7. Each Pacesetter will receive a certificate and special recognition banner to showcase their award throughout their communities.
About United Way of Lake County:
United Way of Lake County (UWLC) is preparing our children to succeed in a changing world by focusing on education and building safe and stable families. Working with nonprofit agencies and community partners, we have identified four key programs to prepare children to succeed: Success By 6 Program – prepare for kindergarten; Reading Success Program – read at grade level; Stay in School Program – graduate high school; Safe and Stable Families Program – empowering families. UWLC is overcoming reading and educational barriers by reaching children, from preschool through high school, through these key programs. The overall effect and benefits are multiplied by the strong collaboration with agencies and our community partners. For more information, visit www.LIVEUNITEDlakecounty.org.
About the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading:
Launched in May 2010, the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is a collaborative effort of funders, nonprofit partners, business leaders, government agencies, states and communities across the nation to ensure that many more children from low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career and active citizenship. By 2020, the Campaign aims to increase by at least 100 percent the number of children from low-income families reading proficiently by the end of third grade in 12 states or more. Since its launch, the Campaign has grown to include more than 240 communities, representing 42 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands with 2,100 local organizations (including 130 United Ways and 250 state and local funders). To learn more, visit gradelevelreading.net and follow us on Twitter @readingby3rd.
[SC1] The Waukegan Collaborative is led by United Way of Lake County in partnership with Waukegan Public School District 60, Waukegan Park District, Waukegan Public Library and Kohl Children’s Museum with the common goal towards eliminating the achievement gap for third grade reading between Waukegan schools and the state of Illinois.