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United Way Awards Millions To 11 Community Agencies

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DETROIT (WWJ) – The United Way is awarding several million dollars in federal and corporate grant money to 11 community agencies.

WWJ’s Pat Sweeting reports that the money will be used to boost early childhood literacy.

In southeast Michigan Detroit Public Television shared in the grant award.

“Our goal is to play the airforce to all the armies that are helping to move kids and help them with better media tools and collaboration, on getting them in the hands of parents, children and caregivers,” said Detroit Public TV president, Rich Homberg.

Homberg says that one example is focusing on better childhood eating habits.

“But how do we create that as a curriculum, and then share that on our television station, but also with every community member in their offices, in front of kids, on the screens inside their buildings.”

DPT receives $150,000 a year for five years is to be matched through local fundraisers.

Ann Kalass CEO of Starfish Family Services in Inkster will receive $250,000 that the organization will match.

“Our project is around creating a family literacy movement within the community of Inkster,” said Kalass.

Part of the approach will be targeting parents: ” In Inkster a quarter of the parents have a high school degree or less so we have pretty high rates of adult illiteracy,” said Kalass.

Another component of the outreach is creating an environment where the adults feel comfortable helping their kids understand the links between words and objects.

General Motors Vice President Chris Perry is a Board Member for the G.M. Foundation and United Way of Southeastern Michigan. He sees the foundation’s participation in this effort as “extremely important …”

“This is our community, this is our base, this is our home. We really feel it’s necessary to give back to the community and we recognize the importance of education from the very beginning of early childhood through high school and even into college and that is where those funds are meant to be,” said Perry.

By investing in efforts targeting childhood development, Perry says General Motors is helping create the leaders of tomorrow who, in turn, will help the automaker remain competitive for generations to come.

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