Today’s guest blog comes from Dave Ricks, senior vice president and president, Lilly Bio-Medicines, who also served as the 2015 fundraising chair for United Way of Central Indiana. He was recently named Lilly's next CEO.
It’s hard to believe that kids are already heading back to school again. At the same time, we know this: Education is vital to our community and our company. But far too many children in Indiana, particularly those from low-income settings, encounter significant barriers to quality education.
As a company, we’re working closely with United Way to change that – and I invite you to be part of that change.
Early Childhood Education
The data are clear. High-quality early education is critical to helping children succeed throughout school and later in life. And yet, Indiana is among the very few states that don’t provide ongoing state funding for early childhood education.
In the absence of meaningful progress at the state level, United Way and Lilly joined forces with many others to move these efforts forward in Indianapolis. Together, we created a $40 million, five-year plan that is helping 1,600 3- and 4-year-olds from families with very low incomes get access to high-quality early education.
This is a great start but, unfortunately, we had to turn away nearly 2,700 children for this coming school year. And that’s just in Indianapolis. Fortunately, there is growing consensus that we must do better.
Over the coming months, we’ll advocate for early education funding to be one of the top legislative priorities in 2017 – no matter which party wins in November. You can add your voice to these efforts by signing this United Way petition and joining other upcoming opportunities to make our voices heard.
In addition to early learning, studies show that ensuring children can read at grade level by the end of third grade strongly correlates with future academic success and graduation rates.
That’s why ReadUP is so important.
United Way’s ReadUP pairs tutors with third-grade students who are struggling to read. And it works. Kids who participated in the program last year improved their reading scores by more than 30 percent over their peers not in ReadUP.
Unfortunately, about 25 percent of ReadUP students didn’t receive the recommended number of sessions last year due to a lack of volunteers.
In honor of Lilly’s 140th anniversary this year, we are working to recruit 140 new volunteers for the coming school year. I hope you’ll consider joining us in this simple but highly effective effort.
You can learn more about ReadUP and register to volunteer here.
Together, we can help ensure that more vulnerable children in our home state of Indiana are given the opportunities they deserve to learn, grow and succeed.