Kids On Track

United for Childhood Success

Did you know that children who are not reading at grade level by the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school? Or that over the last decade, only 37 percent of third-graders in Chemung and Steuben counties were reading at grade level?

The goal of the Southern Tier Kids on Track initiative is to ensure all children are reading at grade level by age 8, so they are set up for success in school, work and life. Providing young children with a healthy environment in which to learn and grow is good for their development and their success in school. High-quality early childhood programs also bring impressive returns on investment and benefit us all.

United Way of the Southern Tier has brought together the critical players and thinkers — schools, program providers, funders, businesses — all with the same purpose: to ensure kids have the best chance. The Southern Tier Kids on Track Council, a group of educators, child care professionals, human services professionals, business leader, and others, is the backbone of this effort at United Way.

Keeping Kids on Track

United Way of the Southern Tier and its partners are addressing some of the barriers to early childhood success:

School Readiness

Children start learning at birth. By encouraging the social, physical and emotional development of young children, we lay the foundation for their success in school and life.

Did you know? By age 3, the vocabulary of a child with college-educated parents and primary caregivers is two to three times larger than their peers whose parents have not completed high school, according to "Meaningful differences in the everyday experiences of young American children."  As these children reach school, they are already behind their peers, unless they are engaged in a language-rich environment early in life.

Summer Learning Loss

During the summer, children need to stay engaged to prevent losses in literacy and other academic areas. Learning programs can mitigate loss and even provide academic gains.

Did you know? By the end of summer, students perform, on average, one to two months behind where they left off in the spring.

That's why United Way of the Southern Tier supports local programs designed to keep children engaged and learning throughout the year. 

Literacy Focus

In the first few years of life, over one million new neural connections are formed every second, according to the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. These connections are formed through the child’s genes, environment, and experiences, especially “serve and return” interaction with adults, or what developmental researchers call contingent reciprocity. These are the connections that build brain architecture – the foundation upon which all later learning, behavior, and health depend.

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library

Any child under the age of 5 who lives in Chemung or Steuben counties can be registered to receive a free book each month by mail? United Way of the Southern Tier is proud to partner with Dolly Parton's Imagination Library to provide this program locally. Registration information can be found here

VOLUNTEER: Join the Dolly Parton's Imagination Library volunteer team. We're looking for volunteers who can help us promote the program with tasks such as tabling at community events, distributing bookmarks to places children and parents/caregivers are found, and more. We provide the materials and training. Time commitment varies. If you're interested in joining our team, please contact United Way of the Southern Tier by email ( or phone 607-377-5834.

Learn More 

Listen To A Podcast

Check Out Our Program Partners

  • United Way of the Southern Tier is proud to partner with local nonprofit agencies to offer programs to support children in our community. See the complete list of program partners here: 2021-2022 Program Partners

Other Resources

Steuben County — Resilient Children and Families 

Harvard University — Center on the Developing Child