Focusing on Education

Health, Education, and Financial Stability…the building blocks for a good quality of life and the focus of Centre County United Way funded programs. 54.6% of Centre County children are at-risk for poor school performance and 11% of our neighbors are functionally illiterate.

United Way partner agencies work to give everyone access to quality education services. Whether it is quality child care and preschool opportunities or literacy education, Centre County United Way funds programs with proven outcomes.

The following agencies provide educational programs to Centre County residents:

Boy Scouts of America – Bucktail and Juniata Valley Councils: educational/recreational programs that teach boys and girls living in Centre County adventure, education, service, and leadership.

Center for Alternatives in Community Justice (CACJ): alternatives to civil and criminal justice through mediation, pre-trial supervision, and youth aid panels.

Centre County Library and Historical Museum: complete range of library services, free high-speed internet, early-literacy programs, and bookmobile services.

Centre County Youth Service Bureau (YSB): Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program and youth centers in Bellefonte and Snow Shoe.

Child Development & Family Council (CDFC): child care and educational programs for children from 6 weeks through middle school, scholarship funding for low-income families, and free state-funded Pre-K programs.

Easter Seals of Western and Central PA: inclusive pre-school/child care program and summer day camps for children with and without disabilities.

Friendship Community Library: computer access for the residents of Beech Creek in eastern Centre County.

Mid-State Literacy Council: reading, writing, basic math, and English skills for adults.

Park Forest Preschool: tuition-free preschool for children from low-income families.

Private Industry Council of the Central Corridor: summer youth career development program.

Here are two examples of how Centre County United Way funded programs make a difference for everyone living in Centre County.

A family with two children began in the CDFC program when the kids were infant and toddler age. The older child has autism and behavioral problems. Both parents have intellectual and mental health diagnoses and find coping with their children very difficult. Because the children can attend high quality early care and education classrooms the family has the much-needed support they need. This support has been critical during the COVID-19 pandemic when other more targeted supplemental programming for a child with special needs has not been available because the program is not open or there is no space available. The kids had been at another child care site, but the parents were struggling to afford the cost. They applied for state subsidy funding through the Early Learning Resource Center 8 but were just above the income cutoff for that program. CDFC’s Safety Net Funding was available and supported them at a time when there were no other financial or program options, particularly for children with special needs. Centre County United Way plays a critical role in funding the safety net so families can continue to thrive even during the most difficult times.

A woman referred to Mid-State Literacy Council from Centre Safe desperately needed to learn English in order to obtain a job to support herself and her children. Financial security could lead her to a life of safety including food and housing. After working with trained volunteers, her tutoring sessions and practice gave her the English skills she needed to obtain full-time employment. Housing, food, and security created a happy home environment, and her children are doing well in school. She is able to communicate with their teachers, and she participates in school events with other parents.