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Originally published: 2013-09-02 11:30:54
Last modified: 2013-09-02 11:31:38

United Way Education Council continues work

by Anna Oakes

The Education Vision Council of the High Country United Way wants to keep the public apprised of its ongoing efforts after establishing key local funding priorities in the area of education.


In fall 2012 the High Country United Way affiliate -- like other affiliates across the country -- shifted to a model that funds initiatives creating measurable community impacts rather than a model that allocates money to existing partner agency programs.


The HCUW assembled three Vision Councils in developing the new funding model. The councils established priorities and objectives in the areas of health, income and education in Avery and Watauga counties.


The Education Vision Council established three priority areas: expand non-traditional education opportunities; increase/change perception of value of education; and increase collaboration to align resources.


"We envision a community where everyone has the opportunity for educational, social and emotional growth throughout their lives," the Education Council's vision statement says.


Although the public and charter schools in both counties perform well, the council recently said in statement, "some students struggle and others drop out ... students, often through no fault of their own, continue to enter school with unique challenges."


With regard to the second priority area, the council noted that many speak about the importance of reading and math skills but that "some of us, however, do not find time to read to children, to support school functions, to stand up for necessary funding, to expect every child to learn."


The council points to the recent Back-to-School Festival as an example of its third priority area -- collaboration.


The festival, held in Boone Aug. 10, served more than 500 children, with 150 getting haircuts. Volunteers and agencies, especially the Watauga Children's Council and Western Youth Network, distributed more than 200 new books, more than $800 in Goodwill gift cards to families and hundreds of clothing items.


Gary Childers, Melissa Phillips and Dick Jones lead the HCUW Education Vision Council. For more information, call (828) 265-2111 or visit http://www.highcountryunitedway.org.