Giving Back with Ready for School
By David Hoekman
About the organization
By building confianza, mutual trust, across the community, Ready for School prepares children for success in kindergarten by equipping parents and families through the integrated support of the Holland, Zeeland and Hamilton communities.
Meet Bill Badran, Senior Development Officer at Ready for School.
Q. What’s your role with the organization?
A. My job is to inspire through stories and build awareness on resources we provide — like access to year-round early learning through preschool scholarships, kindergarten readiness, early literacy and childcare solutions.
Q. What impact does Ready for School have on the community?
A. A community-adopted early literacy screen in 2008 showed that fewer than half of our community’s children were ready for school when they entered kindergarten at age 5. In response to this critical need, Ready for School was launched. The good news is that in 2019, 70% of our community’s children were ready, and the work continues.
Our impact is strengthened through partnerships across the community. Some examples of impact right now are Kindergarten Readiness Camp, in which applications are now being accepted. We have partnered with healthcare providers to enhance early literacy through our Reach Out and Read West Michigan program. We are piloting a Tri-Share Childcare program — a program where qualified employees pay one-third, the employer pays one-third and the state pays one-third of childcare cost. This will help employers stay competitive, retain talent and help their team members.
Q. Why does the organization and its goals matter?
A. Top three reasons why Ready for School matters:
1) Ready for School is closing the gap between potential and opportunity. How? Access. Education, community engagement and collaboration have been Ready for School’s blueprint since 2017. With that we are working on a Tri-Share Childcare program.
2) Kindergarten Readiness Camp: The move from pre-K to kindergarten is one of the most important transitions a child will make. By having your child attend our camp, they’ll reach kindergarten more confident, inspired and ready.
3) Reach Out and Read West Michigan: Children that are read with more often have improved language and listening skills, experience stronger emotional connections to their loved ones and gain a lifelong love of reading.
Q. How can locals help or get involved?
A. Here are ways you can invest in Ready for School’s work: financial donation (for example, give a dollar amount for a couple of the levels you’ve already established), volunteer with us with kids and families in the summer, by spreading the word during community events and/or through joining committees looking at childcare solutions and strategy.
Q. What is your favorite part about being involved with Ready for School?
A. My favorite part about being involved with Ready for School is learning happens every day, everywhere. I see amazing value in early education. When I was an entrepreneur and a small business owner, one of our values was to bring on potential interns who were juniors or seniors in high school. This opportunity not only helps build experience but also guides these young individuals in their career path. Now that I’m involved with Ready for School. I’m pleased to be a part of a child’s kindergarten readiness path. Learning about the Kindergarten Readiness Camp was amazing. It’s amazing to know we have a camp that helps soon to be kindergarten-age kids feel comfortable on their first day of kindergarten. Because of the camp, educators are telling me they see early leaders. This is just one of the many programs that benefit our children and why I love my career at Ready for School.
Ready for School