Education

Toddlers sitting on sidewalk smiling at camera

We help kids get ready for Kindergarten so the whole class is on the same page.

We help at-risk middle school students succeed in school.

Providing wrap-around educational opportunities is just one part of what we do.
Check out our work in the areas of
Financial Stability, Health, and Transportation.
Together, we can transform our community so that all families have the opportunity to thrive.

COMMUNITY COLLABORATIVES 

Kindergarten Readiness

  

OberlinKids is a Community Collaborative focused on developing solutions to ensure all children enter school healthy and ready to learn.

Goal

Identify the needs of each pre-school aged child and their family and put them on a track to be prepared for kindergarten.  According to the OberlinKids collaborative partners, being ready to learn includes four key areas – having basic needs met, being developmentally ready, having adequate support in place for the child and family, and participating as a family in transition to kindergarten activities.

Initiatives

Support the parents and families by providing the resources necessary to encourage a child’s development. Families who reside in Oberlin can sign-up with OberlinKids to obtain free resources on child development, access to family events and play groups, health and nutritional resources and services, learning check-ups for their child, referral support, books and much more.

Partners: Child Care Resource Center | City of Oberlin | Kendal Early Learning Center | Lorain County Children and Family First Council | Lorain County Community Action Agency | Lorain County Health & Dentistry | Lorain County Public Health | Oberlin Business Partnership | Oberlin City Schools | Oberlin College Bonner Center for Service and Learning | Oberlin Community Services | Oberlin Early Childhood Center | Oberlin Public Library | OhioGuidestone | United Way of Greater Lorain County

Check out this Community Collaborative's latest impact report.

If you'd like to enroll a child in OberlinKids or see their calendar of events, please visit oberlinkids.org

  

Ready Set Go...to Kindergarten is a Community Collaborative focused on improving kindergarten readiness for children in the Elyria City School District. The collaborative provides targeted activities and programs addressing the physical health, social/emotional development, behavioral health, academic preparedness, and parental support for each child.

Initiatives

Implementation of an Imagination Library - a national initiative that mails high-quality, age-appropriate books directly to family's homes - for children aged birth to kindergarten, identifying children who need intervention and providing them with services before kindergarten, providing tools and resources to homecare providers and stay-at-home family providers, assisting all families and children with a formal transition plan to kindergarten and including neighborhood childcare center staff and homecare providers in advanced training facilitated by the school district.

Partners: Child Care Resource Center | Elyria City Schools | Elyria Parks and Recreation | Elyria Public Library System | Horizon Education Centers | LCCC Children's Learning Center | Lorain County Community Action Agency | Lorain County Job and Family Services | Lorain County Public Health | OhioGuidestone | United Way of Greater Lorain County

*The collaborative also works directly with 15 early education centers whose students will likely attend Elyria City Schools beginning in kindergarten.

Check out this Community Collaborative's latest impact report. 

If you'd like to enroll a child in the Imagination Library initiative or have access to more Ready Set Go resources, please visit: readysetgotoday.org

  

Rising Titans is a Community Collaborative focused on improving kindergarten readiness for children in Lorain through four identified pillars of early learning success including parent engagement, family empowerment, healthy children, and resources for providers.

Goal

A community where families have access to the tools they need for kindergarten readiness, parent Advisory Committees help shape the process, all children entering kindergarten have comprehensive health screenings and immunizations, homecare providers are integrated with formal early-learning centers through professional development and coordinated services, and new services are added that eliminate any new barriers to early learning success.

Initiatives

Identify and provide services to children needing interventions, provide tools and resources to homecare providers, coordinate services between childcare centers and the school district, and work with families to provide additional supports as needed.

Partners: Childcare Resource Center | Horizon Education Centers | Little Lighthouse Learning Center | Lorain City Schools | Lorain County Community Action Agency | Lorain County Health & Dentistry | Lorain County Community College | Lorain County Public Health | Lorain Public Library System | Neighborhood Alliance | United Way of Greater Lorain County

Check out this Community Collaborative's latest impact report.

 

 

Middle School Success

  

231 Go! is a Community Collaborative focused on supporting intermediate and middle school students living in South Lorain with wrap-around services both inside and outside of the school.

Goal

A community where all 5th through 8th grade students who reside in South Lorain are supported in developing key communication and life skills to help avoid specific risky behaviors - such as smoking, drinking and violence - ultimately leading to safer schools, positive social outcomes, and improved academic performance.

Initiatives

Engage families with targeted and informative learning opportunities, link students with tutors and mentors outside of the school, integrate risk-avoidance and healthy choices messaging into coursework,  risky behavior avoidance instruction and messaging within the school and outside the school, fostering volunteerism through multiple community-based after school and expand access to summertime neighborhood programming and activities.

Partners: El Centro de Servicios Sociales | Lorain City School District | Lorain County Community College | Lorain County Public Health | Lorain Metropolitan Housing Authority | South Lorain Block Watch | United Way of Greater Lorain County

Check out this Community Collaborative's latest impact report.

If you'd like to learn more about the services and events provided by 231 Go!

  

Common VIEW (Common Vision for Improved Education and Wellness) is a Community Collaborative in the Clearview, Firelands and Midview school districts focused on improving health knowledge, develop communication and life skills, and create school environments in which risky behaviors are avoided.

Goal

Ensure safer schools and positive social environments that improve both educational and social outcomes for students in the districts.

Initiatives

Coordinating school menus and concessions to include fresh and local produce, providing family fit nights in school facilities, creating walking and biking paths for safe and healthy travel to school and integrating health and wellness messaging into existing curriculum and presentations.

Partners: Clearview Local Schools | Cleveland Clinic Foundation | Educational Service Center of Lorain County | Firelands Local Schools | Lorain County Public Health | Lorain County Volunteer Connection | Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery Board of Lorain County | Midview Schools | United Way of Greater Lorain County

Check out this Community Collaborative's latest impact report.

If you'd like to learn more about the services and events provided by Common VIEW, please visit Clearview Schools' website here, Firelands Schools' website here, or Midview Schools' website here.

 

  

South Side Pride is a Community Collaborative expanding our previous work to focus on a broader geographic area to support middle school students in South Elyria with services both inside and outside of the school environment.

Goal

A community where reading and math achievement gaps based on race and household income are eliminated, more youth are eating healthy and engaging in the proper amount of physical activity, less adolescents are engaging in risky behavior such as smoking, drinking and violence, and there is an increased connection between schools and parents.

Initiatives

Targeted literacy programming at Elyria Public Library system locations, in-school health curriculum with protective factors and risk avoidance integrated into coursework, out-of-school programming and transportation between community partners.

Partners: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lorain County | Catholic Charities | Elyria City Schools | Elyria Parks and Recreation | Elyria Public Library | Horizon Education Centers | The LCADA Way | United Way of Greater Lorain County

Check out this Community Collaborative's latest impact report.

IMPACT INITIATIVES

  

2-1-1 First Call for Help is a community information and referral hotline powered by United Way of Greater Lorain County.

Education Resources

Access is available to many educational services, including

  • Scholarship Programs
  • Public Wi-fi Sites / Mobile hotspots
  • GED Programs
  • Public Access Computers
  • Child Care Assistance

To access services, you can dial: 2-1-1 or toll free: (800) 275-6106 or visit 211lorain.org.

*Spanish speaking information & referral specialists available.

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Volunteers holding boxes of school supplies outside South Amherst Middle School.

Through our Collect - Sort - Deliver Impact Initiative, we have an inventory of gently used books and new school supplies available for distribution through our collaborative partners and local school districts.

We facilitate a county-wide distribution of school supplies at the beginning of each year and continue to collect items that can be delivered year-round.

If you are a part of an organization interested in distributing books and/or school supplies to families in need, please email volunteer@uwloraincounty.org or call (440) 277-6530.

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Woman filling little free library.

Thanks to the generosity of our partners at PolyOne Corporation, we have orange Little Free Libraries stewarded by United Way of Greater Lorain County popping up across our community!

El Centro
2800 Pearl Avenue
Lorain, OH 44055

Durling Middle School
100 North Ridge Road
Lorain, OH 44052

East Rec Center
1101 Prospect Street
Elyria, OH 44035

Midview Middle School
12865 Grafton Road
Grafton, OH 44044

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PolyOne Corporation Logo

OberlinKids Community Collaborative
23 Eric Nord Way
Oberlin, OH 44074

STORIES

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Teacher and young boy

Nikki is a stay at home mom with a young boy named Jerry. Nikki was introduced to Ready Set Go through playgroups in the summer of 2017. These playgroups offer parents free resources that help their children learn developmental skills in a structured, social, and play-based environment.

In Jerry’s case, Ready, Set, Go's playgroups were game-changing because by the age of 3, he rarely had structured experiences outside of his home, and he had never been around other kids his age.

The playgroups also proved to be helpful to Nikki, as she had a weekly opportunity to leave the house and have meaningful interactions with other adults.

As Nikki was getting more engaged with Ready Set Go, she realized that she was hiding some fears about Jerry. She had questions about his speech development and his struggles with potty training. She was also experiencing extreme behavioral issues with Jerry that seemed to come and go. Some days would go as smoothly as possible, while others would be interrupted with unexpected outbursts that would ruin the rest of the day.

Although she was giving a lot of thought to these questions, she was afraid of what the answer might be, so she didn’t share her concerns with anybody. Not Ready Set Go, and not even her husband.

Caitlin Cicero, who led the playgroup, had gone through special training that helps identify kids who may be on the autism spectrum. Caitlin had already done a series of developmental screenings with Nikki and Jerry and had noticed some developmental categories where Jerry was under the bar of where he should have been for his age. 

Then, one day during a playgroup, Jerry had one of his outbursts. Caitlin was able to intervene to help cool down Jerry. After all had cleared, Caitlin and Nikki had a conversation, and Caitlin asked Nikki if she had ever considered that Jerry could potentially have autism. 

Nikki’s head instantly dropped, as her fears had just been spoken into existence. All this time, she was having this same thought, but was afraid of expressing it. And she didn’t want to be the overprotective mother who came off as paranoid by asking too many questions at the doctor’s office.

But hearing Caitlin’s question made it real. Now that she had another person with the same opinion, Nikki knew she had to have Jerry screened, so she called the doctor from the parking lot and set up an appointment.

Nikki began preparing herself for the worst while being careful to not stress Jerry out during the series of tests that followed.

Finding a clear diagnosis for Jerry proved to be a journey in its own right. Jerry was first diagnosed only with a developmental delay, which gave answers for his speech and potty training issues, but still did not give answers to his extreme behavior issues.

Caitlin and Ready Set Go were able to work with Nikki through the process and act as an advocate and support group as she navigated through multiple appointments and different types of doctors.

After some more behavioral issues began to occur, Nikki was able to piece some things together. Jerry’s most severe outbursts occurred in times when he was overly stimulated or had a change in his routine.

Nikki reported these latest developments to Jerry’s doctor when visiting for an ear infection. The doctor went back through Jerry’s previous screening results and realized the signs for autism had been there all along, and these latest signs were confirmation.

Jerry finally had the autism diagnosis that Nikki had both feared, and been hoping to hear, so that she could finally have some answers and come up with a plan for Jerry going forward.

That plan included getting Jerry enrolled in Pre-K and working with an intervention specialist to form an Individualized Education Program that was just right for Jerry.

Nikki also learned how to create a sensory bag that can travel with the family on trips outside of the house and can help Jerry calm down when he starts to experience sensory overload.

The past two years have been a rollercoaster for Nikki, but the family is making progress and Jerry is doing well. Jerry is now ready to start kindergarten. In fact, his teachers say he’s MORE than ready to start. The teachers always point out Jerry as an example of what the other students should be doing, and everybody loves him.

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Three young girls smile for camera

Three years ago, Vonda received a call in the middle of the night from someone who told her that she either had to take custody of her three young nieces - Betty, a 4 year old and Carine and Carmen a set of 3 year old twins - or they would be split up in the foster care system.

Vonda was given emergency custody of the girls, and at that moment she realized the extreme neglect these girls had endured. Carine had such severe bottle rot that she had to have the fragments of teeth that remained pulled. Vonda took the girls to the dentist for remaining dental work and pediatrician to get them caught up on immunizations but all three girls needed further medical care and early childhood mental health services.

Vonda said, “Everything came to me at once and I felt overwhelmed. I didn’t have enough blankets or pillows or clothes when these girls were brought to me. Many services couldn’t help me with the costs because ‘I chose to take the girls in.’ What would you do? There was no choice. I didn’t know how I would do this but how could I let them go into foster care? I knew I had to be there for them no matter what it cost me.”

In April of 2016 Vonda met Jenn Keathley, the director of OberlinKids at a community event. Vonda explained her situation to Jenn and was interested in any services available because the girls were all behind developmentally. Through OberlinKids, Jenn was able to connect Vonda to a variety of services, including a formal "ages and stages" evaluation, and Jenn helped the girls enroll in Oberlin Early Childhood Center for full day preschool.

Here, the girls were able to make friends, catch up on their social/emotional skills, and most especially, play.  OECC was able to set Vonda up with a payment plan, and scholarships from the Child Care Resource Center provided emergency funding to help with the monthly costs.

The Schools confirmed Carine’s needs and sadly, she scored the lowest on her kindergarten screening of any child to the principal’s knowledge. Vonda struggled to decide what to do but ultimately moved Carmen to kindergarten while retaining Carine, her twin sister, in special education preschool. They had a successful year and made progress in their academic goals.

Since their meeting Jenn has been able to help Vonda access local programming for clothing, school supplies and Christmas presents for the girls. Vonda has shopped at the local food pantry at Oberlin Community Services and been able to receive some financial assistance to help her feel a little more stable and on her feet.

Betty and Carmen are currently in third grade and Carine in second grade. After over two years of having emergency custody Vonda was awarded full, permanent custody of the girls. They are all thriving and always have smiles on their faces and shower Jenn with hugs every time they see each other around Oberlin. 

OberlinKids is strengthening families, connecting communities and supporting children not only for today but for tomorrow's generations through their supportive services to ensure parents provide their children with the best start possible.

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Mother with toddler twin girls smiling at camera

Sheila, a first time mom with twins in Lorain, was looking for ways to prepare her girls for preschool. While participating in Neighborhood Alliance’s Help Me Grow Home Visiting Program which supports kids from birth to age three, she was referred to Rising Titans, a community collaborative powered by United Way of Greater Lorain County which focuses on building a bridge to formal schooling for the youngest of learners in the city of Lorain.

Because Help Me Grow is an at-home program and the 3-year-olds didn’t go to daycare, they hadn’t had many opportunities to interact with other kids their age in a structured setting. Sheila knew how important it would be for them to experience learning alongside other kids before entering preschool.

One of the priorities of the partners in the Rising Titans Community Collaborative is to support kids during this crucial period and provide opportunities to help them develop the skills they need to make the most of preschool and Kindergarten. Sheila and the girls attended the very first Rising Titans community event in 2018, then became involved with their weekly playgroups from April to July 2019. During that time, the girls had an opportunity to interact, learn and play with kids their age and were exposed to a variety of activities that helped them with things like numbers and colors, and strengthen fine motor skills like using scissors and holding a pencil.

By August 2019, when the girls entered preschool, they were on track to do well. Sheila enrolled them in Steven Dohanos Elementary, a neighborhood school focused on dual language learners within the Lorain City School District, a key partner in the Rising Titans Community Collaborative.

Sheila’s experience epitomizes the power of collaboration of local agencies to support families in our community. As a first time mom, Sheila gladly welcomed Neighborhood Alliance’s Help Me Grow home visits throughout her pregnancy up until the girls aged out of the program at 3-years-old. “They prepared me for motherhood,” Sheila shared. “They gave me tips on how to get the girls crawling, they helped me create homemade toys that helped with their fine motor skills, potty training tips, and much more” 

When there would have been a gap in support as they transitioned out of the Help Me Grow program and into a preschool environment, the Rising Titans Community Collaborative, with Neighborhood Alliance as its lead agency, has been able to facilitate continued wrap-around support for the family to set them up to succeed as they progress towards Kindergarten.

The family continues their involvement in Rising Titans to support educational development of the twins in their preschool years, including attending the very popular Trunk-or-Treat event held annually (see picture), where they received a gift bag of books and fine motor activities provided by Cleveland Clinic! While the girls were disappointed that their first year in preschool to an early end due to COVID-19, they are doing well home and are continuing their activities.