The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

November 8, 2013

Letter: Little kid, big impact

Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — The front-page article in the Nov. 4 edition, “Most Kids from low-income families not in pre-K,” sounded a familiar chord within our local community.

On Sept. 6, 2013, United Way of Enid and NW Oklahoma announced an unprecedented goal — not just in dollars, but more importantly a goal of transforming lives.

United Way launched an impact initiative to help create an Early Childhood Center for 4-year-olds in a neighborhood where it is most needed, and fund additional Parents as Teachers through CDSA for an extra commitment — above and beyond our partner agency funding — of $350,000; for a total campaign goal of $1.15 million.

Currently, there is a waiting list for our Pre-K program due to a shortage of classrooms.

This situation can put these children 12-18 months behind their peers who are in a 4-year-old program.

With 85 percent of brain development occurring before kindergarten, United Way of Enid & NW Oklahoma felt compelled to step outside our standard funding mechanism.

By investing in young children and families, we cannot only transform the lives we see today, but also the lives of those not yet born. Our impact initiative, “United: Early Education. Strong Families. Bold Economy,” is a start to help end generational cycles of poverty.

This initiative is a collaboration between many entities and individuals within our community who desire to help families move beyond crisis and toward self-sufficiency.

In addition to United Way, Enid Public Schools, CDSA, the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission and the Chamber of Commerce are all integral partners working fervently to give every child equal opportunity to early childhood opportunities. It is our hope you will join us in this effort.

Pamela Ballard,

executive director of United Way of Enid and Northwest Oklahoma