On March 14, Sheila Merry, Executive Director of the Evanston Cradle to Career (EC2C) initiative, told members of the District 65 and 202 School Boards about new programs being piloted by EC2C, which now includes more than 38 local public sector, non-profit, academic, and faith-based organizations. 

A Community Asset Map will be available through Evanston’s 311 center “in the next few months”, Ms. Merry told the RoundTable. The map pin points social services available throughout the community. Initially, “311 operators and a few nonprofits” will test the map. Once it is “sufficiently user-friendly” the interactive map will be made publicly available.

A Kindergarten Registration flier is being developed. A flowchart on the flyer explains the steps of the registration process and the flier encourages families to register students as early as possible to help the District plan for their arrival and for each child to meet the staff and see the school. Once the flier is complete, EC2C partners, especially early childhood providers, will share the fliers directly with parents. 

Summer reading initiatives will aim to help combat summer learning loss. Local camps and other summer programs are being encouraged to incorporate 20 minutes of reading each day into their schedules. The Park District “wants to be a strong champion” in encouraging kids to “want to read,” said Ms. Merry.

Plans are being finalized for a community book drive to help get books into children’s hands this summer. “We will be asking residents to buy books from a list of diverse books about children and youth generally underrepresented in children’s literature,” said Ms. Merry. “The process will largely be handled by the Library, though the details have not been worked out.”

Ms. Merry also talked about a new summer school and after-school reading program based on the “The Freedom School” model that was developed by the Children’s Defense Fund. See story below.

The ABC Boosters program is also expanding, said Ms. Merry and Dr. Goren. The summer program that employs ETHS students to tutor incoming kindergartners will grow from serving 18 pre-K students last summer to 60 this summer.

“We’ve got some exciting things going forward this spring,” said Ms. Merry. “We’re seeing collective impact in action.”