United Way
of Massachusetts Bay
and Merrimack Valley

DRIVE: An Innovative New Approach to Improving School Readiness

'15 DRIVEgraphic

An early childhood model that is insight-driven and data-powered.

Led by the Private Equity/Venture Capital Leadership Council, we’re incubating a groundbreaking new effort to identify infants, toddlers and preschoolers who are most-at-risk of falling behind and connect them to early intervention services.  Data & Resources Investing in Vital Early Education (DRIVE) is a collaboration between United Way, Thrive in 5, and a growing number of community-based organizations in Boston.

There is little data available on Boston’s 40,000 children who are under the age of five. What we do know is that one in three five-year olds in Boston is not ready for kindergarten, and two in three low-income children need improvement or are failing 3rd grade MCAS tests.

Using trained parent screeners and partnering with community-based organizations in the city, we’ve developed a cost-efficient method to collect key data elements (gross motor skills, fine motor skills, problem solving and social-emotional skills) that are linked to predicative indicators of a child’s developmental progress and well-being.


We’re using this information to:

  • Ensure children receive timely referrals and early intervention
  • Build parent understanding, expectations and involvement in healthy child development
  • Provide programs with aggregate data on developmental trends of the children they serve
  • Better align resources where they are needed most, ie programs and neighborhoods where the data shows kids are more at-risk and/or not currently receiving services

DRIVE is the first effort to collect, aggregate and analyze developmental screening data across diverse programs. It is a model that is uniquely scalable to other cities in Massachusetts.

To date, DRIVE has:

  • Screened over 2,200 young children
  • Partnered with Horizons for Homeless Children to reach 300 children in homeless shelters
  • Expanded our screening to Head Start programs in Boston
  • Provided custom reports with aggregate data to programs in Boston, so they can see the areas where their children need more focus

How you can help