A child’s household income shouldn’t restrict their access to high-quality early education.

United Way of Greater Chattanooga needs your help to reimagine early education opportunities for children in our community.

All kids deserve access to a high-quality education. But sometimes that access is different depending on what neighborhood a child is from or on their household income. 

For kids under the age of five, not having that access could mean falling behind their classmates for their entire academic careers, leading to missed opportunities beyond high school and in the job market. 

When you support United Way, you help give our youngest community members access to the high-quality education they deserve. 

The Impact of Poverty on Kids

One in five children under five years old are from families who live in under-resourced areas.1

The stress of living in situations where adults are struggling to make ends meet takes a toll on kids. Children may experience food insecurity, a lack of safety or other negative environmental influences. Research shows that kids from these environments can experience: 

  • lower brain activity2 
  • increased challenges in social-emotional development, 
  • health problems 
  • developmental delays.3

High Cost of Care and Early Education

Even when high-quality education is available, it may be financially out of reach for families who have a lower income. Currently, the average cost of childcare and pre-kindergarten education is over $10,000.4,5 

Multiple studies show that 90 percent of a child’s brain develops before they are five years old.6 

That means in those formative years, children are making more neural connections and developing faster than in any other time in their lives.

How much can kids learn at such a young age? Some experts say that even when kids are playing, they are developing skills in language, executive functions, mathematics and spatial language, scientific thinking, and social-emotional areas that they will use as adults.7

Having adults – whether they be parents, caregivers or teachers – who are informed and ready to engage with children helps prepare them for kindergarten and reach important milestones in later grades. 

United Way’s Role

United Way of Greater Chattanooga supports giving access to high-quality childhood education to all children – especially those from under-resourced neighborhoods. We partner with and connect donations to local nonprofits who are working to make care and pre-K education more affordable, to support professional development for educators and daycare center staff members and to provide tips for parents on how to support the development of their children. 

One of our partner agencies, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, provides one free, high-quality and culturally sensitive book per month to children enrolled in the program. Recently, United Way of Greater Chattanooga helped deliver the 2.5 millionth book in our community. That’s 2.5 million opportunities for children to reimagine their daily lives, their goals, their educational pathways, and their futures. 

Your generosity helps sustain programs like these. Help more kids get the strong start they deserve by reimaging early education opportunities with us.


1Kids Count Data Center

2University of East Anglia via Science Daily

3American Psychology Association



6National Center for Biotechnology Information

7The National Association for the Education of Young Children