The following column is the opinion and analysis of the writer.
Knowledge is power. But not every family has the resources to give their children a strong education foundation or provide the tools they need to be successful in high school and beyond. This year, through Giving Tuesday, you can join the movement by helping improve education in Tucson and Southern Arizona. If you’ve never been a part of Giving Tuesday, let this be your year to give back to education and fuel successful communities.
“Giving Tuesday,” which falls on Dec. 3, is described as a “global generosity movement,” a bold statement that might seem daunting, even unattainable on the face of it. But the rest of the description brings it all back home as the goal of Giving Tuesday is meant to unleash “the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world.” At United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona, we concur, and this year, as we move into the Christmas and holiday season, we want to challenge our community to give to programs that support quality early childhood education.
Consider this startling statistic about our community: nearly 50% of children in Pima County are not reading at grade level by the third grade. Research shows us that students who fail to reach this critical milestone often falter in later grades and drop out before earning a high school diploma. This is just one reason why United Way invests mightily in quality education, one of the three pillars of our work here that also includes financial wellness and healthy communities. United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona helps improve access to education — one of the critical cornerstones of successful communities.
Our support continues to grow among programs such as My Summer Library, which provides support to local school districts, the Great Expectations Program, which offers free professional development to early childhood educators, our Cradle to Career Partnership, which seeks to improve educational outcomes for children, youth, and young adults, and Quality First Redesign, which aims to increase access to high quality education programs among families with children from birth to age 5. In these and other initiatives, United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona is committed to our children’s education through working within our community to giving back both financially and through volunteerism.
Right here in Tucson and Southern Arizona, the power of giving has enabled 236,980 books to be given to children with literacy tips for parents, 682 early childhood educators to receive the professional development needed to improve kindergarten readiness and 498 youth to connect back to education and career pathways. But there’s so much more work to be done. Today, our youth need knowledge, skills and credentials to secure jobs that can sustain families. And success in the future will take innovation — innovation that will be driven by the youth who are empowered through education.
Giving Tuesday was established in 2012 and always falls on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. And it is appropriate — after we gather with family and friends to give thanks for our many blessings, an American tradition that goes back to before the founding of our Republic, it is right and good that, having given thanks, we should then turn our attention to giving back to others.