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At United Way, we often talk about the power that collaboration has in shaping our community. We see it every day as partners come together to make a difference. This is why we were thrilled when Lane County was recognized as a finalist for 2017 All-America City Awards for its work in creating measurable success for kids in our community. This award recognizes the incredible success of the Lane Early Learning Alliance driven by the collaboration of its partners and United Way of Lane County as its backbone.

“We are so fortunate to be working with such dedicated and engaged partners. By working together to tackle large problems, we’ve been able to really move the needle on the challenges our kids are facing,” says Holly Mar Conte, VP of Community Impact at United Way of Lane County. “It’s exciting to see that success recognized on a national level.”

The All-America City Award is given to communities that exemplify outstanding civic accomplishments. In 2017, NCL and the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading will recognize communities that have made measurable progress for low-income children on the key drivers of early reading success.

The Lane Early Learning Alliance was nominated for its work in:

School Readiness

Through Lane County’s collaborative efforts with partners, developmental screening rates for children have increased from 28.3% in 2013 to 67% in 2015, indicating a significant improvement in school readiness for low-income children.

Summer Learning

The KITS program has gone from serving 40 children at two sites in 2011 to serving 368 children at 24 school sites in 2016. Program outcomes include a 28% drop in the number children at risk for reading failure, as well as indicators of parental confidence at supporting their children’s learning and positive behaviors.

Aligning, linking, stacking and bundling the most proven and promising strategies, programs and practices

The goal of the Lane Early Learning Alliance is to create a streamlined system for families to navigate coordinated services across systems that allow for a more effective alignment of promising strategies and programs. Working innovatively across systems to link services also provides the opportunity to address barriers that prevent participation in programs or activities to support children's development, such as transportation, time, and other access issues.

Parent Success and Health Determinants

LaneKids regularly convenes local parenting education providers and partners to assess countywide needs, coordinate collaborative parenting education series with an emphasis on rural and low-income communities. Since its inception in 2010, LaneKids has coordinated and documented the completion of 69 parenting education series, with 634 parents attending 70% or more of the classes.

Driving with Data

Efforts in Lane County to track and document universal developmental screening and surveillance have increased those screenings by 237% allowing for earlier identification of young children's developmental delays or disabilities and earlier connection to community resources to address the identified issues.

Building cross-sector collaboration, community-wide mobilization and a coalition of local funders committed to achieving the result

Lane County works hard to ensure cross-sector collaboration and has a strong funder coalition. The United Way of Lane County is leveraging local, statewide and federal grants; donor contributions; and corporate gifts to support a variety of strategies to reach their goals. One example is the Kids In Transition to School (KITS) Social Innovation Fund (SIF) award of $1 million per year for up to five years to support the expansion and evaluation of the KITS program. This grant has a 2:1 matching requirement. To date, UWLC has raised approximately $3.6 million in matching funds and has established a funders collaborative to support these efforts. Funders meet to hear updates about the project, explore options for streamlining administrative processes, and identify additional sources of sustainable funding for the project.

Public Housing and Vulnerable Children

Lane County, in collaboration with Cornerstone Community Housing and Housing and Community Services Agency, is piloting a project to address the needs of families living in affordable housing. This community believes that aligning early learning and affordable housing efforts will enable them to leverage existing resources to identify families sooner, bring programming to families at their residence and provide access to family resource navigation support to allow for better connection to existing community resources that support grade-level reading.


United Way of Lane County serves as the backbone support organization for the Lane Early Learning Alliance, and together, inspired by feedback from parents that were surveyed, they have developed innovative strategies to leverage technology for impact. They have a robust social media presence, where they send bi-lingual information to parents, based on the Triple P Stay Positive messages. They couple that with a range of other resources to support parent success and early school success that have a technology component, such as Vroom (where they have a mature and growing effort underway), Ready4k, and Text4baby. These resources are used strategically with different partners and are connected with higher-touch activities for the most vulnerable families served.

Learn More:

Visit the Lane Early Learning Alliance for more on their collaborative work.

Check out the 2017 All-American City awards for more in this special recognition.