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SCIP groups keep busy with education goals

July 28, 2013|By BRAD SELL and MELISSA REABOLD

Editor’s note: This is an update on the Strategic Community Impact Plan coordinated by the Community Foundation and United Way of Washington County. 

The Impact Council determined that SCIP Focus Groups would reconvene to evaluate the status of the work in progress to achieve the goals published in November 2012 and to provide an update to the community.

As of this update, all focus groups have met one or more times. Each has determined the relevance of the stated goals and reviewed the current information available for each subject. Many of the groups continue to meet to provide more direction for the accomplishment of the stated goals. The education focus area has had the most activity, specifically with the first two goals. 

Goal 1: Within five years, all students will be ready to enter kindergarten based on the Maryland Model for School Readiness. The latest data shows that only 71 percent of our children are fully ready to enter kindergarten.

Goal 2: Reduction in summer learning loss in elementary school.  

The following is a review of SCIP-related activities:

• Thanks to the Hagerstown Rotary Literacy Initiative, a Second Annual Literacy Summit was held at HCC in May to continue the dialogue and educate the community on the role that literacy plays in economic development. Our jobs are only as good as our work force, a point brought home by a senior executive at Volvo.

• The Community Foundation and United Way, along with four other funders, have brought Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to Washington County with a goal of delivering age-appropriate books to 1,500 preschoolers by December 2013.  As of today, 637 children have received 3,242 books.

• Washington County Public Schools (WCPS) is running its second Primary Summer Literacy Camp at four elementary schools in the county to prevent summer learning loss and reinforce skills needed for academic success. An Early Childhood Advisory Council is meeting regularly to address the low readiness scores in our county.

• A United Way Day of Caring book drive coordinated with the help of the Hagerstown Area Religious Council (HARC) and Hagerstown Rotary Literacy Initiative to provide books for organizations working with low-income families in Washington County. (The Day of Caring also addressed SCIP Goal No. 28, which is to enable “aging-in-place” for older adults by completing repairs at 17 residential homes that will improve on the elderly and disabled person’s ability to continue to live independently.)

• A mentoring program called the Reading Café was started at Ruth Ann Monroe Primary School with trained, volunteer mentors reading and interacting with students on a regular basis.

• Parent learning parties are being implemented by Funkstown Elementary School and Head Start of Washington County to teach parents how to be more actively involved in reading to their children.

• The Community Action Council is teaming up with WCPS to provide as many free meals as possible for free and reduced-price meal students at all of the summer camps throughout the county, with many of the camps incorporating a reading curriculum into their activities.

• United Way supports several summer learning loss programs at agencies throughout the county. These include a variety of programs including STEM, reading and math with activities that engage children in year-round learning.

It is possible that the Literacy Task Force model could be applied to other issues identified by the SCIP process, such as obesity. Original data gathered by the SCIP process indicated that 67 percent of Washington County residents were considered overweight or obese. That number has grown to 72 percent.

The focus groups will continue to meet as needed and to gather and review data related to the issues identified through the community assessment. Minutes from these meetings are available on the SCIP website at www.strategicwashingtoncounty.org.  

SCIP is a community-based tool that can be a starting point for action and advocacy by anyone in Washington County. It has already provided a foundation for funding strategies and for local nonprofit strategic planning. If you have any questions about the Strategic Community Impact Plan, please feel free to contact us. Everyone has a role in creating positive change in Washington County, and we look forward to working with you to make it happen.

Brad Sell is executive director of the Community Foundation of Washington County and Melissa Reabold is executive director of United Way of Washington County.

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