The ceremony celebrated several programs, including our Home Instruction for the Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) program.
On Saturday, June 12, Mile High United Way was thrilled to celebrate the first-ever graduation ceremony for HIPPY students and their parents. The students, ranging from ages two through five years old were met with loud cheers and applause as they walked across the “stage” in the outdoor ceremony.
HIPPY first came to Mile High United Way last year. This evidence-based program works with parents in the comfort of their own homes to help them support their child’s kindergarten readiness. HIPPY’s early learning curriculum is delivered through 30 weekly home visits to families with children ages two to five. These one-on-one interactions between a trained home visitor and family are backed by 40 years of rigorous research that demonstrate the program’s effectiveness across the board, but especially for families in under-resourced communities. Currently, the sessions are being held virtually.
“This is our inaugural year of HIPPY. We launched this program during the pandemic, and I could not be more proud of this United for Families (UFF) team who did the impossible,” Molly Yost, Director of Early Childhood Initiatives at Mile High United Way, said. “[Mile High United Way’s home visitors] launched this program, got all the families set up with their laptops, and made sure that we were actually assessing how children were progressing on their own school readiness. This [ceremony] is the culmination of a lot of hard work, of a lot of uncertainty, and a lot of hope.”
“It gives kids the confidence to go to school, and parents the confidence that they’re able to support their kids at school,” Doug Dell, Mile High United Way Board Trustee, said. “I love the way that the program brings parents back in as teachers and involves the whole community as well. It’s just a great circle.”
The program is a key component of High United Way’s United for Families initiative, which aims to increase access to high-quality early learning experiences in our most under-resourced communities. The Mile High United Way-led program is being piloted in Aurora, CO with 32 families, specifically targeting the neighborhood surrounding Lansing Elementary School. Mile High United Way identified Aurora as a community in need through rigorous data, evaluation, and community assessments led by the Mile High United Way team’s proven approach. Aurora is also considered a child care desert; an area lacking adequate access to early child care opportunities.
The foundation for the HIPPY program comes from the trained and trusted HIPPY home visitors. These home visitors meet with families weekly to deliver evidence-based school readiness curriculum ensure the students are ready to enter Kindergarten ready to learn. Mile High United Way prioritized staff who are not only experts in their field, but who have participated in the HIPPY program themselves, bringing a unique perspective and passion for this type of learning and educating. Catalina Gonsales, Community Advocate Supervisor and HIPPY Coordinator at Mile High United Way, was recently interviewed by CBS Denver about the HIPPY program, see the full story here: CBS4 United Way focuses on early childhood education in Aurora.
The graduation ceremony also included eight individuals who completed two rigorous Early Childhood Education courses in partnership with the Community College of Denver, earning them the title of “Early Childhood Teacher – Level 1″ at a time when diverse and qualified early childhood teachers are in high demand. The celebration concluded with a special recognition of the 11-member Globeville and Elyria-Swansea Early Childhood Education Parent Advisory Council, who are using their voices and community connections to advocate for new, high-quality early childhood education programs.
Please join us in congratulating and celebrating our graduates! The future is bright for each and every one of you, and we can’t wait to cheer you on as you accomplish your next great venture.