What We Do

Our Goals

The Coalition will focus on coordination of resources, communication, and increased public awareness to ensure the children of Lee County will read on grade level by the end of third grade. The Coalition collaborated and developed goals focused on four main areas: school readiness, attendance, summer learning opportunities, and health. The entire community can play a role to ensure we are meeting these goals and that all our children are reaching their full potential.

School Readiness

Our first goal is to increase the percentage of children who enter Kindergarten prepared to be successful. School readiness is a term used to describe all the preparation that takes place in the years between birth and the first day of kindergarten.

Strategies to meet this goal center on:

  • Partnering with Lee County Excel by 5, area churches, Family Resource Center, and the Lee County Library to increase learning opportunities for low income children not enrolled in formal care.
  • Providing technical assistance and training to improve quality of childcare centers in Lee County.
  • Implementing regular meetings between childcare teachers/directors, Head Start, and Kindergarten teachers.
  • Implementing Kindergarten transition programs into the school districts.
  • Supporting parents in ensuring their children arrive at school healthy and developmentally ready to actively participate in the classroom and learn by providing parent workshops led by experts in the field.
  • Attending community events to provide information to parents about the importance of the first five years and how to ensure their children arrive at school healthy and developmentally ready.

Watch this video about the importance of school readiness:

For more information or to join the school readiness focus group, contact Shelly Brooks at shelly@unitedwaynems.org

Student Attendance

Our second goal is to decrease the number of K-3 students who are chronically absent. For many students, chronic absence- missing 10 percent or 18 days of school each year- is a reality. When chronic absences begin as young as pre-K and kindergarten, students are put on a path to fail to read on grade level by third grade and off track for graduating high school. In 16-17, the chronic absenteeism rate in Tupelo Public School District was 14.99% and Lee County was 16.96%. Both districts were above the state average, which was 14.2%

Strategies to meet this goal center on:

  • Developing a common vision with the community around school attendance.
  • Working with both school districts to increase the parents’ understanding between school attendance and reading achievement
  • Working with K-3 schools to develop incentive plans to decrease the percentage of chronic absences.

Watch this video about the importance of school attendance:

Attendance Works: A Community Imperative from N.A.K. Production Associates on Vimeo.

For more information or to join the student attendance focus group, contact Lewis Whitfied at lewis@createfoundation.com or Becky Rollins at becky@beckyrollins.com

Summer Learning

Our third goal is to increase quality summer learning opportunities, with a focus on low-income students. Many children from low-income families do not have access to quality summer learning opportunities. Without enriching activities, research shows that these children lose as much as three months of comprehension skills over the summer. By fifth grade, these children are nearly three grade levels behind their peers. Summer learning loss is also cumulative, making it nearly impossible to “catch up” year after year.

Strategies to meet this goal center on:

  • Establishing a baseline of number of students enrolled in summer programs.
  • Working with current programs to expand services that are accessible to low income students
  • Working with community partners to communicate information about summer learning opportunities
  • Partnering with both school districts, Boys and Girls Club, and the Lee County Library to establish and/or expand summer reading clubs and summer camp opportunities
  • Partnering with the Tupelo-Lee County Hunger Coalition to distribute books to children in the summer through grant opportunities.

Watch this video about the importance of summer learning opportunities for students:

For more information or to join the summer learning focus group, contact Kristy Luse at kristy@createfoundation.com or Albine Bennett at albine@createfoundation.com

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