South Shore Stars, a nonprofit organization that provides comprehensive early education and youth development programs through a family-support approach and has served as a resource for working parents on the South Shore since 1970, was recently named one of four winners of the United Way’s 2020 Venture Fund Competition, presented by Aetna.
South Shore Stars received a grant of $75,000 in recognition of its idea for kindergarten readiness for children in South Shore communities.
United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, in collaboration with Aetna, a CVS Health company, created its first-ever Social Innovation Venture Fund competition last year to seed new, innovative and collaborative solutions to entrenched community issues. Through this process, United Way makes one-year grants to a portfolio of nonprofit organizations that have the experience, community presence, and relationships to approach a big problem in a new way, as well as a long-term vision for how their approach can be scaled to achieve lasting change for all those who need it in their community. This year, four nonprofits received the grant.
South Shore Stars’ award was based on its partnership with Brockton Area Multi-Services. Together, the two agencies will launch PRISM (Preschool Integrated Supports and Modeling) to better meet the needs of children with developmental delays during the “gap years” between early intervention services and kindergarten. Stars has created a multidisciplinary team composed of speech, occupational, physical and mental health therapists to provide extensive training and coaching to Stars’ 40 preschool teachers and parents, developing individual plans to support different children and help them successfully transition to kindergarten. PRISM will develop 75 plans to support children and their families in its first year.
“Our solution is unique because it brings two agencies together to meet a need for children ages three to five who fall into what we call ‘the gap’ – they have finished early intervention services at age three but they don’t start public school until kindergarten,” said Debby Stratton, preschool program director at South Shore Stars. “With this funding, we will be able to support our most at-risk children and help them get ready for kindergarten.”
“The urgency for innovation and change has only increased as the pandemic has significantly impacted nonprofit resources while intensifying the needs and inequalities they are trying to address in their communities,” said Bob Giannino, president and chief executive officer at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. “This year, more than ever, we need to focus on young children who are especially vulnerable and work to ensure they do not fall behind. We’re proud to recognize South Shore Stars and Brockton Area Multi-Services with our Venture Fund award and to help launch their efforts during this crisis.
For more information visit https://unitedwaymassbay.org/get-involved/venture-fund-2/.