In 2011, United Way for Greater Austin launched the Play To Learn program, made possible through a Tapestry Foundation grant. As a result of the grant, thirty parents received UWATX’s unique eight-week course providing free education for underserved parents and their 2- and 3-year-old children. Since then, more than 400 families have benefitted from the Play To Learn program.
We are pleased to announce that in 2015, the Tapestry Foundation will help this program expand even further with an additional $75,000 grant given to UWATX. The Tapestry Foundation is a private family foundation that awards grants to Austin organizations providing programs around early childhood and parenting education, as well as literacy-based and social-emotional learning programs. Thanks to initial grants from the Tapestry Foundation, UWATX was able to gain additional funders in support of the project, including Samsung, Famigo, Applied Materials, Daniels Fund and some very generous private donors, as well as additional partners.
From 2000 to 2010, Austin experienced a 71% increase in the number of low-income children under the age of 6. Children living in poverty face risks other children may not, and are less likely to enter school socially, emotionally and cognitively ready.
The Play To Learn program works by intervening before a child enters kindergarten, rather than children entering school unprepared and having to be caught up, wasting school districts’ time and money in additional resources. Additionally, the child now has a better chance of graduating high school and college, and securing a job with a livable wage.
This new grant will positively change the lives of hundreds more families in Austin, and the data proves it. 75% of parents in the program reported a decrease in depressive symptoms and 86% say they now read to their child every day. 100% of families reported positive parenting attitudes, meaning they now view themselves as effective parents and play more with their children; this is a 75% increase based on initial parenting attitudes before starting the program.
Over the next three years, the program will continue to grow and develop as needs change, but the initial mission will remain the same—to bring a love of learning and the chance to start life out on the right path for low-income children in Greater Austin.