Greenwich United Way Direct Impact Programs Launch Early Childhood Achievement Gap Solutions

Partnering agencies come together to launch a new effort designed to close the achievement gap in Greenwich. 
Greenwich United Way, in collaboration with Impact Partners Family Centers, YMCA of Greenwich and Greenwich Public Schools, introduced a new initiative under the Greenwich United Way Direct Impact Programs during this month’s Community Planning Council meeting on Tuesday, May 15 at Greenwich Library. The two-pronged initiative is called Early Childhood Achievement Gap Solutions (ECAGS) and was developed to narrow the Achievement Gap in Greenwich. The event was held at the Cole Auditorium and included a keynote address titled ‘The Journey from Adversity to Health, Hope and Resilience: What’s in your backpack?’ by Dr. Janice Gruendel Ph.D. a leading expert on early childhood education. This event marked the first Direct Impact Program launch for Greenwich United Way.

The keynote, presented by Dr. Gruendel, focused on the importance of toxic stress and its multi-generational adverse effects on a household and community. During her presentation, she applauded the Greenwich United Way for working to understand the cause of the growing Achievement Gap in the community and for raising the money to launch a new effort. “I am so proud to be here, I’m so proud of the process that you’ve gone through, a very orderly science-oriented process. I am so proud that you have the courage and the bravery to figure out how to engage with families from the start, from the start of their kids, and be in a humble relationship that can allow these children to be equally vibrant and successful with their non-at-risk peers. So, bravo Greenwich!” said Gruendel as she concluded her presentation.

Key stakeholders were in attendance and learned how the Greenwich United Way plans to monitor ECAGS results over the next three years with input from their Impact Partners. “To ensure that this Direct Impact Program delivers expected results and makes a positive impact on the community we are working with data provided by Greenwich Public Schools to track children and families in the program,” said David Rabin, Greenwich United Way CEO. He continued, “The goal is to allow at-risk children to enter kindergarten on a level playing field with their non-at-risk peers.”

“The Greenwich United Way partnership in support of future and current Greenwich Public School students contributes to growing a vibrant Greenwich community. With focus, attention, and efforts, the Greenwich community has coalesced around Early Childhood Achievement Gap Solutions in an effort to eradicate pervasive gaps that are evident as early as during the preschool years. With this intervention program and services model, our most vulnerable youth receive expert attention, care, and support in an effort to better prepare them to access educational experiences” said Dr. Jill Gildea, Superintendent, Greenwich Public Schools.

During the event, Greenwich First Selectman, Peter Tesei said, “This once again shows the leadership of the Greenwich United Way bringing the community together to meet a need”. ECAGS utilizes a two-pronged approach. The first, Parents as Teachers (PAT), focuses on delivering services to families with children from prenatal through kindergarten. The second prong supports community preschools with instructional coaching. PAT is a 30-year-old proven data-driven solution designed to close the achievement gap for families who are entering kindergarten. According to research, at-risk children in Greenwich are entering kindergarten 28 to 36 points behind their non-at-risk peers. The second prong of this program targets children three to five years old by placing a preschool instructional coach in 13 preschool classrooms to enhance and enrich those curriculums.

A Yale University study showed that inserting an instructional coach in preschools is eight times more effective than sending those teachers to traditional workshops. Research also showed that the achievement gap starts before kindergarten and when at-risk children go through both programs they will enter kindergarten on a level playing field with their non-at-risk peers. To learn more about Greenwich United Way Direct Impact Programs, please contact Director of Community Impact, Robert Moore, (

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About Greenwich United Way Early Childhood Achievement Gap Solutions (ECAGS)
The Greenwich United Way Early Childhood Achievement Gap Solutions (ECAGS) program was launched by the Greenwich United Way under the organization’s Direct Impact Programs in May of 2018. In collaboration with our service partners, Family Centers, Greenwich Family YMCA and Greenwich Public Schools, the program’s objective is to narrow the achievement gap through a two-pronged approach: an evidence-based home visitation program for low-income families and children ages birth to 3 coupled with an enriched pre-school instructional coaching program serving a large percentage of low-income children ages 3-5. The Greenwich United Way provides the only ongoing funding for the program. For more information please visit Greenwich United Way online ( #GUWECAGS

About Greenwich United Way
The Greenwich United Way (GUW) shares a name with approximately 1,200 other similar organizations across the nation, although the Greenwich, Connecticut division is a privately incorporated, locally governed, nonprofit agency. As a volunteer-driven organization, the Greenwich United Way exists to help identify and address the health, educational and self-sufficiency needs specific to its local community and to create and affect meaningful, lasting solutions. Through various fundraising efforts and on-going research, the organization is able to directly grant the funds necessary to accomplish this goal. The Greenwich United Way also invests in and conducts collaborative efforts to address broad-based community needs with partnering nonprofit agencies. Visit Greenwich United Way online to learn more ( Instagram @GreenwichUnitedWay Twitter @GreenwichUW #WeAreGreenwich

About Family Centers
Family Centers’ continuum of 25 health, education and human service programs offers families a multi-generational solution to closing the Achievement/Opportunity Gap. Our services focus on the entire family to provide continuous support as children progress through school and begin careers. By addressing the root causes of the Achievement Gap at the earliest stages (prenatally) and intervening throughout a child’s life, Family Centers is ensuring local families gain the tools they need to achieve long-term success. For more information, visit: ;

About YMCA of Greenwich
Founded in 1916, the YMCA is the largest community-based membership organization in Greenwich. Part of a well-known YMCA national network, the Greenwich Y has over 5,500 members and growing. Its programs in healthy living and youth development seek to serve and nurture the potential of everyone in our community, whether or not they have the ability to pay for its programs. To learn more about the YMCA of Greenwich, membership and its numerous wellness programs, visit:

About Greenwich Public Schools
The Greenwich Public Schools (GPS), Greenwich, CT provides students with a comprehensive PK-12 educational program. GPS is a future-ready district focused on meeting individual learning needs across a beautifully diverse population. The District consists of eleven neighborhood elementary schools (K-5), three middle schools (6-8), and one high school (9-12). Students are assigned to elementary and middle schools based on residential attendance areas. Four of the elementary schools and one middle school also serve as magnet schools, offering a programmatic choice for families. A tuition and lottery-based preschool program is also offered for residents and employees of the Town of Greenwich.

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