Success by 6 funding goes to three groups


Published: Thursday, June 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 31, 2006 at 11:05 p.m.
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Regional Vice President of Florida Operations Jeff Rommell holds the 2005 Spirit of the Community Award as he delivers an acceptance speech on behalf of Nationwide Insurance on Wednesday in Gainesville.

JOSHUA L. HALLEY/Special to The Sun
Three groups with a single purpose will share $400,000 in grant support from the United Way, agency officials announced at its annual meeting Wednesday.
The awards will fund a series of Success by 6 initiatives in North Central Florida designed to ensure every child enters kindergarten ready to learn.
Outgoing United Way of North Central Florida board Chairman Tom Mallini told an audience of more than 200 gathered for the meeting that the organization was no longer known just as a community fundraiser.
"Our new paradigm is community impact," Mallini said, "and our goal is to be an agent of change for the good of the community."
To that end, United Way, which raised a record $1.7 million in its 2005 campaign, carved out a segment of its Community Care Fund to help pay for programs that specifically help children and families prepare for school.
A number of organizations submitted grant proposals for Success by 6 programs, which were judged by an independent (and volunteer) panel of community leaders.
Alachua County School Superintendent Dan Boyd said the initiative "has caught the hearts and minds of the community."
He pointed to an achievement gap that begins right at kindergarten and can continue throughout a child's school years. Statistics show more than one in four children are not ready to learn when they first step through the kindergarten door.
"We have to invest in our children - and their families - if we are ever going to break the cycle of failure," Boyd said.
County Commissioner Lee Pinkoson pointed to Alachua County's 23 percent poverty rate - calling it inexcusable.
"I expect Success by 6 to transform this county," Pinkoson said. "It costs us an arm and a leg not to do the right thing."
A group of agencies banded together to propose a program that will get most of the Success by 6 funding. They are calling it the Family Success Alliance.
The Partnership for Strong Families will be joined by the Early Learning Coalition, Child Abuse Prevention Project, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Embrace Project and Healthy Families of Alachua.
The alliance expects to reach 2,500 children with health and developmental screenings, child care provider training, parent education, mentoring, a community center, abuse and neglect prevention, home visitation, program evaluation, and information and referral.
Two other programs, ACORN clinic and HIPPY - or Home Instruction for Parents of Pre-School Youngsters - will receive grants of $20,000 and $80,000.
United Way spokesman Hank Osborne said the programs will be assessed at the end of the year and are expected to show measurable results.
Another organization, Nationwide Insurance, received the 2005 Spirit of Community award. Regional Vice President Jeff Rommell accepted on behalf of the firm's 1,300 employees in Gainesville.
Diane Chun can be reached at 374-5041 or chund@gvillesun.com

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