April 22, 2017, is a landmark day in the history of United Way of Central Indiana.
Many years ago, we took the bold step of making quality early childhood education and pre-k advocacy a top priority for our community. Today, on behalf of a coalition of educators, corporate partners, civic organizations, donors, volunteers, and hundreds of pre-k champions across all 92 counties, I’m pleased to report that the General Assembly voted to expand Indiana’s pre-k for low-income children with the passage of a pre-k expansion bill and approved a budget which includes an investment of $22 million per year in the next biennium budget.
We are grateful to the Indiana General Assembly and Gov. Eric Holcomb for their commitment to growing the number of low-income children served by Indiana’s quality pre-k programs. Still, we all know there is more work to do to ensure Indiana’s more than 27,000 low-income 4-year-olds receive the education they need to start — and stay — on track.
This moment is about progress – for our children, for our families and for our state’s economic future.
This effort was a perfect example of what United Way does best as it fights for the education, financial stability, health and basic needs of all in our community. The education of our most economically challenged youngsters is a complex issue – one that requires the active participation of partners from all sectors and individuals from all walks of life to solve. Putting those unlikely partnerships together to reach our goals is how we LIVE UNITED.
Please join me in thanking the many individuals and partners who have worked tirelessly for years, months, weeks, days and hours to support our effort to expand quality Pre-K. They are:
- UWCI’s stellar staff and public policy team: Christina Hage, Michaelyn Meave, Chris Herndon, Jessica Di Santo, Marci Price and Andrew Cullen.
- Our coalition partners: Early Learning Indiana, Eli Lilly and Company, Indy Chamber, Indiana Chamber of Commerce, PNC Bank, Cummins, Salesforce, National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), SW Chamber, Stand for Children, Indiana Association for the Education of Young Children, Indiana United Ways, and the United Ways serving Allen, Grant, Vanderburgh, and Jackson Counties.
- Our United Way affinity group leaders and members from the Tocqueville Society, Women of Tocqueville, Women United, Emerging Leaders, Diversity Leadership Circle, and L.I.N.C.
- The thousands of people around the state that raised their hands to say they were Allin4PreK and who raised their voices to teach others and advocate for kids.
- The funding partners: Lilly Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, Fairbanks Foundation, and The Glick Fund. Special thanks go to Lilly Endowment which has provided significant support to United Way and Early Learning Indiana to raise awareness and to expand the number of high quality Pre-K seats in Central Indiana and throughout the state.
- Dr. John Lechleiter, the best friend any United Way could ever have. He testified on behalf of this effort and never failed in his support.
- And United Way’s Board of Directors. Special thanks go to our chair, Connie Bond Stuart and our Public Policy Committee chair, Mike O'Connor. Deborah Daniels was also heavily involved in making this success a reality.
Today we celebrate being #AllIN4Prek!
Ann D. Murtlow
President & CEO
United Way of Central Indiana