Teachers tell us that there are children that arrive to kindergarten having never held a book in their life. In addition, there are children in Pitt County that do not have books at home and only 56% of children arrive at kindergarten “ready to learn.”
In May 2016, Books from Birth Early Literacy Coalition of ENC and United Way of Pitt County launched Imagination Library. Imagination Library delivers one high-quality developmentally-appropriate book to every child enrolled, beginning at birth until the child’s fifth birthday, at no cost to the family. In just under a year, over 3,050 children have been enrolled with over 20,000 books being delivered to homes in Pitt County!
These books serve multiple purposes as tools and motivators for parents and children, awareness materials for early literacy initiatives, and a rallying point for the community as we collaborate to reach a 100% kindergarten readiness rate.
We have experienced record breaking enrollment in Imagination Library, this is testimony to the community’s positive reception of the program and the incredible network and partnerships in place. One parent said, “Imagination Library books are her favorite!” Another parent said, “It's like Christmas every month! And my daughter insists that we stop everything and read the minute her book arrives!"
Women for Women funds have allowed us to expand Imagination Library, providing books for a whole year, to 100 young girls in Pitt County.
We aim to continue the momentum and double enrollment numbers in 2017 with special emphasis on very young children in the critical stage of cognitive development between the ages of birth and three.
Thank you for giving the gift of high quality children’s literature empowering moms (and dads!) to read aloud to their daughters every day, beginning at birth. We are grateful for your support in making sure Pitt County girls are kindergarten-ready and prepared for success.The Nurse-Family Partnership aims to improve pregnancy outcomes, promote child health and development, and increase economic self-sufficiency for first-time moms. Caring nurses empower moms to confidently create a better life for their children and themselves by providing knowledge and support through pregnancy until their babies reach two years of age.
Bria and Ah'mani
Bria, a single mother studying at Pitt Community College, heard about this voluntary program at her doctor’s office. Once hearing about it, she decided to sign up for the program. Nurse-Family Partnership provided her the outlet, but she made the conscious decision to attend every appointment, never missing a single one, to empower herself and her daughter, Ah’mani.
Bria describes Ah’mani as a happy, inquisitive child who loves to be with her mother constantly. Through the child development resources Bria chose, she has enjoyed watching Ah’mani develop into someone intelligent beyond the expectation for her age. Bria has also to grown personally as a parent. She has learned more about the positive discipline, how to prevent safety hazards in her home, and has even opened up to building a stronger relationship with her mother in order to create the support system she desired.
Bria does wish that The Nurse-Family Partnership could be longer, but she has been able to obtain the skills, information and resources necessary to carry with her after graduation from the program. There are still struggles she faces financially, but Bria is ambitious in achieving her goals. Despite medical issues with her eye, she is committed graduating with her Associate’s in Early Childhood and Human Services, and eventually getting a driver’s license. Even though Bria faces significant obstacles, she feels empowered to provide the best life for Ah’mani. It is important that The Nurse-Family Partnership program continue to enable first-time mothers to achieve a better life for themselves and their families.
Anessa and Nyrobi
Many teens spend the summer sleeping in, eating whatever - whenever, and chatting up friends during the hot Eastern NC summer. However, a total of 85 Pitt County teens spent their summer waking up each weekday for 10 weeks, to catch a bus to the Student Success Academy program to prepare for the upcoming year.
Student Success Academy is one of Pitt County’s successful summer enrichment programs with the goal of helping rising 6th grade students stay on track toward high school graduation.
Meet Anessa. She is a typical rising 6th grader who may have preferred to stay home hanging with friends and chatting on her cell phone, but instead she spent her time with Student Success Academy.
Each year about 85 students spend their summer engaged in a broad array of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts and math) activities. In addition, Student Success Academy aims to help students meet state and local standards in core academics like reading and math. Anessa’s mom believes the program has been beneficial to her daughter.
“This program helped prepare Anessa for 6th grade by helping her retain what she learned in 5th grade and helping her form new friendships before going to middle school,” says Nyrobi, Anessa’s mom.
Anessa and all of the other participants were invited to continue with Student Success Academy during the school year. While the summer focuses on middle-school preparedness, the year-round after-school program provides healthy snacks, one-on-one tutoring and homework assistance, STEAM activities and other social and academic support.
Anessa is usually an A/B student but came home with a 14% on her math progress report. Tutors at Student Success Academy gave her the attention she needed to pull her grade up to a B average.
In addition to music and art activities, STEAM activities and hands-on experiments have inspired Anessa’s interest in science careers.
“Anessa participated in hands-on scientific experiments that she would not have been exposed to if not for the Student Success Academy program.”
The Student Success Academy is provided by the United Way of Pitt County and Pitt County Schools to 150 middle schoolers every year, the expansion to after-school programming is funded by a $1.27 million federal grant from the 21st Century Community Learning Center Program.
Asonti and Rashid
Asonti is the young lady on the left. She is in 8th grade, born and raised in Greenville, likes volleyball, basketball, is very good at math and wants to be a fashion designer.
Rashid is the young man on the right. He is in 7th grade, is originally from Washington, NC, plays football, wrestles and likes math.
They attend Pactolus School and they both participate in an academically based afterschool program called Student Success Academy.
Asonti and Rashid’s both share a love for math and they credit Student Success Academy for building their math skills through one-on-one homework assistance, math games, computer activities and hands on equations.
When asked what they would say to United Way donors, Asonti said, ““Thank you for donating to United Way, keep donating because I love Student Success Academy! It is definitely helping me with math." Rashid said, "Your donation is benefiting us. I love being with friends afterschool to learn and have fun. My favorite part is the math games."
According to Steve Lassiter, Pactolus School Principal, “this is the only program available afterschool in this area – without SSA, the kids would have nowhere to go. Without United Way several academic supports at Pactolus School would not be available.” Steve went on to say that programs like this produce academic gains and help children feel like part of the community.
James is a hardworking, articulate, dedicated full-time but temporary employee at the Pitt County Solid Waste & Recycling. Originally from a farm community in Jewett, Illinois, he moved to Pitt County in 2001 to be close to his sister. He is a man of faith, has a fiance who he met at Pitt Community College, a 6 year old little boy and another child on the way. At 39 years old, you would never know that he struggled with alcohol addiction for most of his adult life and in early 2014 he lost his license and ended up in prison for habitual DUIs.
It was in prison that he decided that he was done with alcohol. Upon release, with new found sobriety and determination to provide for his family, he set out to find employment. There was just one problem, no one would hire him because he had a criminal background. Many Pitt County employers will not hire a convicted felon.
He struggled to find an employer that would give him a chance and that is when he found STRIVE. After several failed attempts to land a job he said his confidence suffered. James said, “STRIVE gave me confidence,” he went on to say that the environment was positive and provided hope and a path to employment. STRIVE matches graduates with local employers that are willing to give people like James a second chance.
So STRIVE taught James how to navigate the application and interview process, and how to become a team player. James explained that He said, “Mrs. Jones is a tough bird, the program holds you accountable and they will fine you if you don’t do what you are supposed to do.” James graduated from the program and then enrolled briefly in the Third Street Facilities Maintenance program. From there James was encouraged to apply for the temporary position with the county. He has been working there ever since. At the time of the interview, James was hoping to land a permanent positon with the county.
James’ boss, John, had nothing but good things to say about James and the STRIVE program. John went on to say that it’s two-way street, employers have to be willing to give someone a chance and that person has to be willing to work hard. At the time of this intereview, James had 31 months of sobriety under his belt and was hoping for a full-time position with Pitt County Solid Waste and Recycling.
When asked if he had any words for United Way donors, he said, “Thank you, I just want to say thank you. You are filling a great need and putting people on the right path.
Latonya and Nia
My first child knew his alphabet and numbers at an early age and he continues to excel in school. He might get one B on his report card, but the rest are A’s. When my daughter Nia was born, I quickly found out that God has his own design plan with each child.
Nia struggled learning the alphabet and numbers. My husband and I would often ask ourselves, “Why?” We read to her as a baby and even in the womb. She had a bookshelf full of books in her room. Despite of our efforts to help her academically, she was not catching on. She had the unfortunate luck of losing her teachers during the school year in kindergarten and first grade. In second grade, she was recommended for an early literacy afterschool program made possible by the United Way of Pitt County. We jumped at the chance. I was elated to find out my daughter could get help.
Nia was a child that was at risk of failing the first grade and is now a B/C student. She once had a reading level well below grade level, but is now a few points away from reading on grade level. She is proof of the difference community, schools and families can make when they work together.
Even though I haven’t received a raise in years and the cost of living continues to climb, when I was asked to give to the United Way, I knew I had to because I wanted this program to continue. Thank you to the United Way for making programs available to all families in our community.
~ Latonya Nixon-Vines, parent of two children, 8th Grade Team Leader and English Language Arts teacher at Farmville Middle School
I want to tell you about a program that has changed my life, the STRIVE of NC Program. This program is made possible by United Way of Pitt County.
I received the opportunity to go through the program in 2003. At that time, I was receiving public assistance from the state. The assistance included food stamps, work first, daycare assistance, Section 8, and Medicaid. I had 2 children and was a single mother. My highest level of education was a high school diploma. I had a very hard time finding a job and did not know why. I used excuses like my race, being “too real”, or “I keep looking but, there are no jobs out there.” I was less than motivated to find a job.
When I entered the program, it changed my life. Through addressing the common issues of being tardy to the job and at job interviews, as well as my attitude, the program gave me a reality check. It put me in my own face and gave me the tools needed to deal with very tough issues. My self esteem was rebuilt and I was pointed in the right direction to set goals and strive to do better for myself and my children.
As a result of entering this program, today I have a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, a Master’s Degree in Administrative Leadership, I am no longer on public assistance, and I am currently employed at a job that I have held for 9 years. This program has impacted my life and the lives of so many individuals who at one point could not see a way to success. Without United Way of Pitt County and STRIVE of NC working together, I would not be where I am today!
~ Ronda E., mother, graduate of STRIVE of NC, Pitt County resident