$100K challenge could double Women United program

united way quad cities

A Quad Cities philanthropist has issued a $100,000 challenge to the region to help Women United, a group of United Way Quad Cities donors, to ensure more Quad Cities kids enter kindergarten with the skills they need to succeed.

Heidi Huiskamp Collins, founder and CEO of Huiskamp Collins Investments, LLC., Bettendorf,  has pledged up to $100,000 to match donations supporting Born Learning Academies for kindergarten readiness through June 30.

The academies are six-week workshops offered free to parents of children age 5 and younger, to help their kids become kindergarten ready. Managed by Women United, a group of local United Way donors committed to early education, these workshops have served nearly 1,200 families and 2,000 children in the Quad Cities since they began in 2011.

“Born Learning is changing lives every day in our community,” said Ms. Huiskamp Collins, a Women United member. ““Please consider joining me in providing hope and opportunity to some of our most vulnerable Quad Citizens. Our children need your support. Won’t you please help further the great work of Women United?”

In a news release announcing the pledge, United Way Quad Cities President and CEO Rene Gellerman applauded Ms. Huiskamp Collins for the gift, which will effectively double any donation to the Born Learning program through the end of June.

“Thanks to a very generous, thoughtful, passionate and amazing Quad Cities woman, we’re one big step closer to ensuring all of our youngest Quad Citizens are kindergarten ready. We know children who are prepared for kindergarten are more successful throughout their academic careers,” Ms. Gellerman said.

“Heidi has been a member of Women United since the beginning. She has been a strong supporter and advocate for the Born Learning program that empowers parents to become their child’s first and best teacher. Today, she has not only raised the bar with her generosity and community spirit, she’s also helping to make the Quad Cities become the best place for kids to grow up.”

Born Learning Academies are held throughout the year at various schools, child care centers and learning centers in Scott and Rock Island counties. They consist of six, one-hour workshops, facilitated by trained professionals or volunteers who promote safe and healthy home environments and give parents advice and support to help prepare their kids for kindergarten.

Parents discover tips and resources in areas such as early learning and relationships, language skills, nutrition and health, and starting routines. Many academies include a free meal with each workshop, and families that attend at least five workshops receive a complimentary tablet with educational resources for their child.

“The outcomes of Born Learning Academies are significant. Not only do parents make new friends, feel more confident and informed, their children have proven to exceed the kindergarten readiness skills of their peers,” Women United Director Ashley Hicks said in the release.

“In fact, the child of a family who goes through one of our Born Learning Academies is about 10% more likely to be successful in kindergarten. And, we know when a kid enters kindergarten with the skills to succeed, they are twice as likely to be reading proficiently and on track to graduate from high school ready for college or career.”

To donate, visit bit.ly/BornLearningQC. For more information on Born Learning Academies or to enroll in a future workshop, visit www.unitedwayqc.org/bornlearning or contact Ashley Hicks at [email protected] or 563-344-0335.


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