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Wichita Collective Impact collaboration to support early childhood literacy

Wichita Collective Impact collaboration to support early childhood literacy

Leaders from Wichita’s nonprofit and education communities have announced a Wichita Collective Impact collaboration that will increase education success and workforce readiness in Wichita. Funded through a $2 million gift from Wichita-based Cargill Protein North America, the three-year initiative will be jointly led by the Greater Wichita YMCA, United Way of the Plains, the Public Policy & Management Center at Wichita State University and Wichita Public Schools, targeting a summer start date.

Initial programs carried out by WCI will address kindergarten readiness for children ages 3-5 and start within the 67214 zip code – identified as an area where residents are significantly underserved in education and career guidance.

For the initial grant cycle, WCI intends to give out up to $25,000 to organizations that can align with the district’s strategic plan to:

  • Grow parent participation in Ages & Stages Questionnaires (ASQ) that pinpoint developmental progress in children
  • Boost early literacy competencies among preschoolers with a concentration on recognition of letters, numbers and letter sounds


“We’re proud to join the YMCA, United Way of the Plains, Wichita Public Schools and the Public Policy & Management Center at Wichita State University to build an even stronger city where all our children have the chance to succeed,” said Beth Carlson, human resources lead for Cargill’s North American protein business. “This is a sprint for the future of our community. We know education and workforce readiness helps bridge gaps of inequality and builds a community where others want to invest, live and work. By coming together with a core set of priorities and measures, we can have a positive impact that scales throughout Wichita.”

Superintendent Dr. Alicia Thompson says that closing the education and opportunity gap is an obligation the community must be willing to take on.

“We know that income disadvantage has a staggering affect on a child’s exposure to language and words,” Dr. Thompson said. “A student not proficient in reading by third grade is four times less likely to graduate high school on time than his or her proficient peer. Add poverty to the mix, and that same student is 13 times less likely to graduate on time.”

The ultimate outcomes of the WCI are to have more students engaged in ready-to-work programs, increase diversity and number of jobs created, improve local post-secondary enrollment and reduce mid-career departures. Education advancement achieved through quality early childhood education, greater reading and math proficiency and higher graduation rates is a key step to reaching and maintaining workforce readiness. The end result of making Wichita more diverse, equitable and inclusive benefits employers as well as individuals and families who are ready to break through barriers so they can reach their full potential in the community they embrace as their home.


Posted March 22, 2022