Play To Learn: Filling Gaps in the Digital Divide

United Way for Greater Austin (UWATX) is committed to developing innovative programs that enable low income families to have access to quality educational tools for their Pre-K3 children. Since 2011, UWATX’s Success By 6 program has been partnering with several community organizations (such as Austin Travis County Integral Care’s First Steps program, Austin Public Library Camp Fire Central Texas, KLRU and the YMCA of Austin) to offer Play To Learn (PTL) in some of the higher-need areas of greater Austin.

This year alone, PTL served approximately 240 families through 15 partner locations and plans to partner with additional host sites in 2017.

Play To Learn Technology

By introducing tablet technology to the children and parents, PTL has been helping to decrease the “digital divide” that exists between lower-income families and their higher-income peers. Throughout the 10-week curriculum, parents learn skills to help their young children prepare for success in school.

Additionally, PTL programming extends past the 10-week curriculum. Parents who attend at least eight sessions receive a tablet loaded with children’s books, songs, apps, PBS videos and bookmarked websites with helpful parenting resources to further aid and foster their children’s social and cognitive development.

Program Impact

Since the program’s inception, hundreds of parents in Austin have learned how to better connect and engage with their children. Likewise, PTL children are gaining the confidence and social skills to better participate in learning and with each other. Post-testing of families who completed PTL in 2016 showed great success:

  • 99% of parents reported that the program improved their parenting abilities
  • 99% of parents reported that the program increased their confidence as a parent
  • 99% of parents reported that the program taught them how to better help their children prepare for success in school and beyond
  • 98% of parents reported that the program increased the amount of time they spend interacting with their child
  • 99% of parents reported that the program improved the quality of their interactions with their children
  • 97% of parents reported that the program helped them feel more empowered as a parent
  • 92% of parents reported that the program increased their understanding of technology

Another sign of the program’s success is the increased year over year family enrollment as many hear that PTL is “must” for young children.

Jessica Dominguez, Success By Six Program Manager, shares,
“Parents naturally want to do what is best for their children, but some of our Austin neighbors struggle with a lack of resources and knowledge on how make that happen. I’m so grateful to be a part of a program that empowers and equips them to be successful so that, in turn, their children will be successful. The program wouldn’t be possible without our amazing community partners, and the support we receive from donors and volunteers. This year’s success is a testament to the impact of their support. I can’t wait to see more success in 2017 as we look into new partnerships and ways to make the program even better,”

Learn More

If you know a family member or neighbor who is interested in Play To Learn, we encourage them to visit our website.

If you have been inspired by the great work that PTL is doing and are interested in supporting PTL, please email today.