Good News Network March 2018

Thank You For Making the Business Breakfast a Success! 

Last Tuesday, February 27, more than 800 community and business leaders gathered to show their support for early childhood literacy.  The 13th Annual Business Leaders for Early Education Breakfast saw a record turnout and raised a record $50,000 for Early Childhood Education in Tucson and Southern Arizona. It was a powerful morning seeing the leaders of today fund the pathway for the leaders of  tomorrow. Thank you to all of the sponsors and attendees for making this year so successful. Click HERE to see photos from the event. 
 Business Breakfast Literacy Champion Awards

For the second year in a row, two educators were honored at the Business Breakfast for being Literacy Champions in their classrooms. Congratulations and thank you to Marcia and Mary!
Marcia Zatarain de Cortina

Marcia Zatarain de Cortina is a preschool teacher at Sunnyside Head Start and was nominated by Sheri Marlin with the Waters Foundation.  Marcia began her teaching career in Mexico in 1999, but moved to the US in 2005 after discovering her real passion was working with early education.  "I realized there was a greater impact on children and their families if they had meaningful experiences at an early age," Marcia says.  " Marcia bases many of her lessons on a special story or compelling piece of children's literature.  The children in her classroom have multiple opportunities to revisit favorite stories, to explore the problem and make connections to their own lives." - Sheri Marlin.

Mary Carroll

Mary Carroll is a first grade teacher at Roadrunner Elementary School and was nominated by Kristina Brewer, Principal at Roadrunner Elementary.  Mary has been teaching for 22 years, 17 of which have been at Roadrunner Elementary.  " Mary is passionate about literacy and she transfers that passion to her students. She spends countless hours of her own time creating a classroom environment that promotes and encourages literacy with her first grade students.  Mary is a masterful reading teacher who knows how to teach and coach her learners throughout the school day." - Kristina Brewer
Quality First: Working to Make Children Thrive by Age 5

United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona (UWTSA) is working to provide quality child care to more children from birth to age 5.  
In partnership with Southwest Human Development, UWTSA has begun work on the Quality First Redesign program. 

Quality First is a quality  improvement and rating system (QIRS) that is funded by First Things First. It is a voluntary program, with about 1,000 of the 3,000 child care and preschool programs across the state currently participating. The mission of the program is to improve the quality of child care in licensed or certified facilities throughout the state, and to increase the access of high quality programs to families with children from birth to age 5. 

This program has been operating in Arizona since 2010. In an effort to determine the effectiveness and to further improve the program, First Things First invested in a three-year validation study. The data collected from these efforts resulted in the Quality First Redesign. This two-year field test will be used to determine if this refined model will more efficiently move child care and preschool programs towards meeting specific quality indicators.

Four new staff members have been hired for the Redesign: Director, Lela Messick, and three specialists who will be working directly with child care and preschool settings, Denisse Hernandez de Ortiz, Andrea Dekker and John Elliott.

If successful, the Quality First Redesign will mean that the number of participating sites will increase from 1,000 to about 2,250, making high quality care accessible to even more families. 
Don't Pay, DIY Tax Prep Today!

Did you know you don't have to leave home to take advantage of United Way's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program? If you made $66,000 or less last year, you can download free software that will enable you to access all tax credits for which you're eligible.  That includes the Child Income Tax Credit (CTC) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), the latter of which has been recognized as the single most powerful tool to lift children out of poverty.  
Click  HERE to  learn more. 
People Profile: Meet Our VITA Volunteers

Kathy Steiner
Kathy Steiner, a retiree, is now in her fourth year of volunteering with the VITA program. In her professional life, she held positions in management and worked with budgets, but she also always filed her own taxes, giving her a deeper understanding of the process which gives her a stronger capacity to help others with their taxes.

"It's an empathy thing," she says when asked about why giving back is important to her. "If everyone helped everyone who needs help in our community, we'd be much better off in every way. And giving back helps me makes me feel good," she says.

Single moms, the recently widowed and abandoned spouses with children, among others - Kathy has helped individuals and couples from all walks of life and backgrounds prepare for and file their taxes. She's helped folks find new credits, like the property tax credit for Arizona renters and has helped others file past years' amended returns. She stresses that the Earned Income Tax Credit is not restricted to one's own child - the credit could be claimed by a grandparent, for instance, taking care of a grandchild or other relative. 

Thank you to Kathy and all of the dedicated VITA Volunteers. Without your committed service, this valuable program wouldn't be available.  
Save the Date: Circle of Excellence is Back
Thursday, May 17

United Way's Circle of Excellence Luncheon will be held on Thursday, May 17, at Starr Pass Resort and Spa.  Join us for the fun-filled, annual recognition event 
honoring outstanding community stakeholders who volunteer their time,  talent and resources to carry out the mission of United Way. This is a  time to celebrate the hard work put forth by our business and community partners throughout  the campaign year. This event is free and always proves to be a fun time to meet and mingle with like-minded locals working to make Southern Arizona thrive. Click  HERE to see last year's winners and photos from the event.  Sponsorship opportunities are available. Email [email protected] for more information.
My Summer Library 
April 13 to May 17, 2018

My Summer Library is a program of Read On Tucson, a grade-level reading campaign that emphasizes three  key pillars of success:  school readiness, mitigation of summer learning loss and attendance.  My Summer  Library helps to promote the second pillar of success by offering kindergarteners and first graders in schools located  in low income areas 12 books free of charge, to start or expand their home libraries. The books are  provided by United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona and Scholastic Books and paid for by local  donations and grant funds.  This program is completely volunteer driven. 
For more information and volunteer opportunities, please contact Pattie Montijo,  [email protected], 520-392-8176.
Father of the Year - Congratulations Tony Penn!

We are proud to announce that United Way President and CEO, Tony Penn, is an honoree for Father of the Year. Each year, the Father's Day Council of Tucson recognizes local men who are extremely successful in their careers and serve as outstanding role models in our community. Outside of his work leading our local United Way, Tony is a devoted husband, father of two, a proud grandfather of  ten and a pillar in the community. Congratulations to Tony on this well-deserved honor!  Click  HERE  to learn more about the Father's Day Council or to buy tickets to this year's Father's Day Gala.

Thanks for reading!

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