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WLC Signature Cause

Women’s Leadership Council builds on United Way’s effort to graduate kids

United Way of Greater Cleveland is committed to creating a healthy community where every child graduates and every family and individual is financially successful. Throughout 2014-2016, United Way of Greater Cleveland’s Women’s Leadership Council (WLC) has committed to providing added support to help achieve those goals via philanthropy, advocacy and volunteering.

2000 Day PledgeOur signature cause for 2014-2016 is to address the need for quality early childhood education, and to that end we are proud to be a founding sponsor of the 2,000 Days Pledge. 2,000 Days is an educational promise between teachers and parents who pledge to give their child the best early learning experiences possible during the first 2,000 Days, putting their child on the right path to high school graduation and beyond. In collaboration with other community partners, the WLC will help ensure our children attend early learning programs, encourage effective parent-teacher partnerships and assist parents in choosing high-performing primary schools that are responsive to the unique needs of their child. Visit to learn more about the Pledge.

The 2,000 days represent the time when the majority of a child’s brain develops, and experiences in the first 2,000 days of life have been proven to impact academic and lifelong success.

Parents are often overwhelmed with information about early childhood development and education, and sometimes even receive contradictory messages. The 2,000 Days Pledge helps parents by providing a simple and clear way to get to the heart of what is really important to make good decisions for their children. Through the program parents and teachers make an educational pledge to work together to guide every child through preschool and ensure he or she is ready for kindergarten and on the path for high school graduation and beyond.

As one of the founding sponsors of the 2,000 Days Pledge, United Way of Greater Cleveland’s WLC has been involved since the program began back in the spring of 2013. Funds raised from WLC events including the annual Rock the CATWALK fashion shows have been instrumental in the growth of the program.

In August 2014, Valerie Galbicsek was hired as the School Choice Coordinator, a position funded by the WLC, for the 2,000 Days Pledge. In her role, Valerie will work with staff members from The Centers for Families and Children (The Centers) and WLC member volunteers (Learn how you can become a WLC member) to ensure that the quality early childhood education provided to children via The Centers and other area preschools continues into kindergarten and beyond through the School Choice Program.

The School Choice Program will establish guidelines for quality education and identify high performing primary schools that are responsive to the unique needs of each child. Schools which meet those criteria will then become “choice schools” — schools parents participating in the 2,000 Days Pledge can count on to continue to provide their child with a high level of quality education going forward.

Prior to accepting the school choice coordinator position, I was director of women’s programs at the YWCA, where I worked directly with women to help them obtain their GEDs,” says Galbicsek. “My background in childhood education will serve me well in this new role, plus I’m looking forward to having an opportunity to continue to work with adults while making them more aware of their child’s future. Parents and I will combine efforts to ensure our children obtain a quality education.

And the commitment to quality education won’t stop once a child starts school at a choice kindergarten. According to Elizabeth Newman, chief operating officer for The Centers, long term plans call for following 2,000 Days Pledge children into at least the third grade, where it is anticipated their successful start in education as a result of participating in the program will lead to better results on the standardized Ohio Achievement Assessment tests.

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