Children who graduate from high school are more likely to get stable jobs that can sustain a family and enable them to contribute to the local economy. But, the path to success in school begins during the earliest stages of a child’s life.


Early Childhood Education

Children who lack the skills to be ready for kindergarten start their education behind their peers. Those who start behind often stay behind and are less likely to graduate high school. Learn more about Early Childhood Education.

We’re working to:

  • Provide children of all abilities, birth to 5 years of age, the opportunity to gain pre-literacy skills necessary to begin school ready to learn
  • Ensure that early childhood professionals participate in professional development and access resources to increase their knowledge of early literacy skills and child development
  • Support and advocate for continuous learning opportunities throughout the year


On Grade Achievement

Children who are not proficient in reading and math by sixth grade comprise 60% of the students who will not graduate from high school. Learn more about On Grade Achievement.

We’re working to:

  • Provide one-on-one intervention by adult tutors
  • Connect families with schools to improve academic achievement
  • Support and advocate for continuous learning opportunities throughout the year



Our Education Focused Programming

Dolly Parton Imagination Library

The Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library and United Way of Kaw Valley are partnering to make Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library available to all children birth to 5 years old in Shawnee County. LEARN MORE


Brainfood Book Program

The United Way Brainfood program partners with the Harvesters 'BackSnack' program to provide a book each Friday to students receiving a weekend food backpack in Douglas County. LEARN MORE


Junior Leader Reader

Junior Leader Readers (JLR) was launched in 2010 by United Way's Young Leaders Society. Through the generosity of corporate or individual sponsorships, we purchase books for pre-k and kindergarten students in Shawnee County. Since its inception, JLR has given away more than 40,000 books. LEARN MORE