SARASOTA — ALICE — asset limited, income constrained, employed — family youth and children living below the poverty line will continue to get a head start in life thanks to the efforts of a longtime nonprofit and the help of an organization dedicated to creating pathways of early learning.

Children First, the exclusive Head Start grantee for Sarasota County, will receive $165,000 from United Way Suncoast’s Community Investment Fund to support Early Head Start and Head Start efforts.

Families can find Early Head Start and Head Start at 15 locations in Sarasota County. They serve families and children 6 weeks to 5 years of age living in extreme poverty.

Early Head Start (birth to 3) promotes healthy prenatal outcomes, strengthens family functioning and nurtures the development of infants and toddlers. Programs enhance children's physical, social, emotional and intellectual development.

Head Start (3-5) focuses on the comprehensive needs of preschoolers resulting in Kindergarten Readiness.

“The partnership between Children First and United Way Suncoast supports our community’s most at-risk, very young children and their families in a way that truly changes lives,” Children First CEO Philip Tavill said in a news release. “Together, we help lay the foundation for success and making dreams come true.”

The lasting community impact created by Children First aligns with United Way’s priorities.

As households continue to grapple with the financial fallout of the pandemic and parents strive to navigate a challenging educational year, United Way Suncoast has stepped up with a $6.05 million boost to 77 area nonprofits for the 2022 fiscal year.

UWS continues its 97-year mission of lifting up the community by sustaining its focus on four priority areas: early learning, youth success, financial stability and asset development. The investment extends to all five counties in UWS’ region — DeSoto, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota — and underscores the organization’s longtime commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

"We are proud to support high-impact programs that will do so much good across our region," United Way Suncoast CEO Jessica Muroff said in the release. "As we look to emerge from the pandemic and strengthen our commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion with a new strategic vision, it's never been more important to advocate for our community.

"Through our partnerships and expertise, we will continue to create bold solutions to our biggest challenges — uplifting lives and achieving equity for generations to come."

For the second consecutive year the organization convened a group of dedicated volunteers who conducted a thoughtful and thorough job in choosing the nonprofits.

The allocation, an increase of more than $400,000 from the 2020 allocation, will impact nearly 150,000 people in UWS’ five-county region. UWS also raised and distributed $1.9 million for pandemic relief over a six-week period in 2020.

Each grant will fund specific programs that support the interconnected priority areas and help ALICE families who stand just one unexpected expense from enduring hardship.

For more information, call 941-953-3877 or go to



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