The Story Behind that Cap and Gown, By: Jennifer Heath

Jennifer's Blog Post 1


We celebrated a big milestone in our family recently: my son graduated from high school.  It was an exciting day with lots of emotions, including me getting teary when I heard the first notes of Pomp and Circumstance.    

As I was reflecting on all the factors that helped prepare my son for high school graduation, my mind kept going back to another “graduation” that happened many years ago – his graduation from preschool.    

The fact is that the skills and abilities that children acquire during their early years — such as language proficiency, critical thinking, and social interaction — lay the groundwork for academic success throughout their school years.   

Research consistently confirms the profound impact of quality early education on later academic achievement. Children who participate in high-quality early care and education programs are more likely to enter school ready to learn, exhibit stronger literacy and numeracy skills, and demonstrate better social-emotional development compared to their peers who do not have access to such programs.  

Beyond academic achievement, early childhood education cultivates essential life skills that are invaluable in adulthood. These include resilience, problem-solving abilities, empathy, and effective communication — qualities that contribute to personal fulfillment and success in a rapidly evolving world. By nurturing a love for learning from a young age, early care and education fosters a lifelong commitment to education and continuous growth.  

At United Way, we believe that by investing in early education, we empower children with the tools they need to thrive academically and succeed in life.  That’s why we have expanded our early childhood work this year.  We are helping early care and education programs improve their indoor and outdoor spaces and classroom materials to better serve the children in their care. We are also working to create more care, and make it more accessible, with a particular focus on low-income families from underserved neighborhoods. And, we are leading a strategic planning process in New Haven focused on identifying innovative strategies to help young children and their families thrive. This is another example of how United Way continues to be called upon as a convenor and coordinator to bring organizations and community members together to design and implement solutions to key community needs.  

High-quality early childhood education is a fundamental building block for our children's future success, and we are working to make it available to all children and families in our community.  

~ Jennifer

Jennifer Heath
President & CEO



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