Press Releases

Roanoke is Named "One to Watch" by United Way Worldwide

May 16 2012

Roanoke, VA

The early childhood development work in Roanoke, Virginia, was recognized in the category of "Ones To Watch" for the Common Good Awards at the United Way 2012 Community Leaders Conference in Nashville, Tennessee.  The inaugural Common Good Awards, created for the 125th Anniversary of United Way, shines a spotlight on communities around the world that are creating community-wide change in education, income and health – the building blocks of a good life.  Communities recognized demonstrate strong collaborations across a variety of sectors, demonstrate effective use of data to inform strategies and show successful engagement of volunteers and advocates.

 In the Roanoke Valley, a coalition of 37 members representing leaders from business, school systems, local government and nonprofits are working together under the banner of Smart Beginnings Greater Roanoke (SBGR).  SBGR is a part of a statewide school readiness initiative in Virginia to ensure that every child in the area enters kindergarten with the skills they need to succeed in school and in life.  In 2007, the school readiness rate for children entering kindergarten in the Roanoke Valley was at 80%.  After five years, this number has improved to 84%. As SBGR works closely with partners and stakeholders on the issue, its vision is to strategically contribute to raising this number to 90% by 2020. To do this, SBGR focuses on implementing research- and evidence-based practices that have been proven to significantly impact children's school readiness: early educator training, access to quality childcare, parent education and public engagement.     

"The impact of our community's collective efforts around school readiness through Smart Beginnings has captured the attention of many people around the world. It demonstrates that positive changes can happen when we are focused, and collect quality data for the same outcomes in a coordinated and collaborative manner," explains Frank Rogan, United Way of Roanoke Valley president and CEO.  "United Way is proud to play an active role, along with many other partners, to ensure that our children have a good start in school and life. Congratulations to all for bringing this honor to the Roanoke Valley."

The selection committee included: Arlene Holt Baker, executive vice president, AFL-CIO; John Bridgeland, CEO, Civic Enterprises; Jon Campbell, executive vice president, director of Social Responsibility Group, Wells Fargo; Brian Long, chairman, United Way Australia; James Marks, senior vice president and director, Health Group, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; Flavia Pansieri, executive coordinator, U.N. Volunteers; and Patty Stonesifer, chairwoman, White House Council for Community Solutions.

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"I want us to become more aware of Smart Beginnings as a community and the need for expanded Pre-K and quality childcare for the youngest children in Roanoke"

 Mayor David Bowers, State of the City speech 2011

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The United Way of Roanoke Valley serves as the fiscal agent for Smart Beginnings Greater Roanoke.

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