United Way of Midland County invested two years listening to the community to determine their aspirations under the areas of education, health and self-sufficiency. What did they say? They want children to be equipped for success from birth through career; all individuals and families to be healthy and safe; and everyone to have long-term stability and independence.

Working together as a community is bringing that vision to life.

Currently one in four area third graders do not read at grade level and that increases to 50% for those who are economically disadvantaged. Floyd Elementary worked with 60 at-risk elementary students through an innovative new Summer Learning Camp. This included academics, reading, fun activities, bus transportation, along with free breakfast and lunch each day.

“A recent study conducted by the Legacy Center for Student Success revealed that over 80% of students lose critical reading skills over the summer,” shared Rod Dishaw, Principal at Floyd Elementary. “Our Summer Learning camp serves to reverse that trend. We are grateful to United Way and the community for supporting our journey.”

Members First Credit Union is committed to supporting early learners. They partnered with United Way to build a new Scholastic Reading Oasis at Floyd this summer. This “kids only” space invites children to snuggle up in a bean bag chair or lie on the comfy carpet and read their favorite book. It includes nearly 500 new books along with audio equipment and books on tape, so they can listen and read along.

“Our employees had a blast bringing this space to life,” shared Rachel Finney, Marketing Assistant at Members First Credit Union. “We painted the walls bright colors, created a fun and inspirational wall mural featuring Maxwell the Monkey and were honored to welcome the first guests of the Oasis and let them choose a new book to take home. We’re excited to see the reaction of kids returning to the classroom next month.”

Over 20% of area kids live in poverty, and even higher numbers in the west area of the county. Over 90% of those households rely on food pantries, shelters and school lunch programs.

MidMichigan Health is committed to keeping area kids healthy and sponsored an innovative way to get kids exposed to healthy fruits and vegetables. Through their sponsorship, kids in Floyd’s summer program received a variety of different produce each week to take home. They learned how to safely wash them, the importance of nutrition and were provided with “fun food fact” cards to inspire their families at home.

“I’ve never had a green bean,” shared one excited second grader. “I love green beans now.”

To demonstrate impact, the children completed a pre- and post-survey around nutrition. The numbers speak for themselves, with a 17% increase in nutritional knowledge because of their exposure to fresh fruits and vegetables.

“Community change takes place when we work together,” shared Ann Fillmore, Executive Director of United Way of Midland County. “What a shining example of organizations and individuals coming together to ensure area kids have the tools they need for success.”