Mayor Walsh taps United Way and Thrive in 5 for Universal Pre-K Advisory Committee

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh yesterday announced a task force to double enrollment in Pre-K programs by 2018 – naming United Way Senior Vice President for Community Impact Peg Sprague and Thrive in 5 Executive Director Jane Tewksbury among the 27-member committee.

From the Mayor’s Office press release:

To create the framework and action plan for the expansion of full-day pre-kindergarten programs, the Universal Pre-Kindergarten Advisory Committee will look at many factors including class space requirements, teacher qualifications, funding requirements, and potential partnerships for before school, after school, and summer wrap-around services. Thrive in 5, a partnership between the Mayor’s Office and the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, and other community partners will conduct a series of stakeholder focus groups across Boston, and offer online surveys to gather input about the strengths and needs of all of the City’s neighborhoods for high-quality pre-kindergarten. The Advisory Committee will make its recommendations for a mixed delivery system to Major Walsh in November 2014.

There are approximately 6,000 four-year-olds living in Boston, and the population of four-year-olds is projected to grow to as many as 8,000 by 2030. Currently, approximately one-third of all four-year-olds (2,200) are in the nationally-recognized Boston Public School Pre-Kindergarten (K1) Program, while others attend community-based private programs. An estimated 25 percent of all Boston four-year-olds do not attend a pre-kindergarten program. Mayor Walsh’s FY15 budget adds over 100 K1 seats for four-year-olds.

As the importance of investing in early education has increasingly become an issue at the forefront of public discussion, United Way has continued to advance one of our biggest impact goals – making sure children enter school ready to learn – through innovative community partnerships and programs.  Initiatives such as Thrive in 5 and our statewide Brain Building in Progress campaign with the Massachusetts Department of Early Education & Care continue to engage more children and families and increase awareness and access for early education.

Mayor Walsh’s commitment to increasing opportunities for children in Boston is another important step forward and exciting news for the future of Boston families and neighborhoods and we are excited to join him on this effort!

Read more about the task force in the Boston Globe.