United Way invites public to Listen & Learn sessions for Muncie schools

United Way of Delaware and Henry Counties is partnering with Ball State University and Muncie Community Schools to gather feedback and direction by conducting Listen & Learn sessions.

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“Each session is meant to be a kitchen table conversation. There are no right or wrong answers. Rather, the experience is a tried and true technique to capture the community’s will,” said Jenni Marsh, CEO and president of United Way of Delaware and Henry Counties.

United Way is working with churches, childcare providers and other community partners to meet families where they are already gathering and capture their hopes for the school system. There will also be open to the public sessions scheduled throughout the summer. The next scheduled session is 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. on July 29 at Kennedy Library. Space is limited. There is no childcare at this session, however, dinner will be provided, therefore reservations are required. You can register here or by calling Lesley Devine at 765-288-5586 ext. 304.

For five years, United Way of Delaware and Henry Counties has been doing this kind of community listening. Listen & Learn sessions will give Ball State University and Muncie Community Schools a foundation of public knowledge on which to build an innovative, strategic plan. Feedback is anonymous but instructional and will help Muncie Community Schools to determine its priorities in the coming year.

“When we started this work, we heard across the community that education was the greatest hope,” Marsh said. “Many people throughout the community worried about the education of the children in their lives. CEOs at local companies also worried about workforce development and what kind of education potential future employees received.”

United Way then paired the public knowledge with expert knowledge and data to develop a strategic impact agenda. Because a child’s ability to read at grade level by the end of the third grade year is the single greatest predictor of a child’s success in school and life, United Way’s board and staff knew they could honor the community members hopes for education and work strategically to put children on a pathway out of poverty by making sure all third graders read at grade level.  

“Everything we do, from grant-making to our direct service programming, is aligned around making sure kids are on track for success and their families have the wrap around safety net services, financial stability and health programs that will support them being successful readers,” Marsh explained.  

Marsh said the process is energizing and a great way to engage the community in the work that needs to be done. She hopes Muncie Community Schools families will share their hopes for the school systems freely. While not everything can make it into the plan, everyone’s input is valued and will be considered.

Those unable to attend a session can call United Way and speak to Lesley Devine to give their input at 765-288-5586 ext. 304.