Every day, many children walk through the school door burdened with problems of poverty, discrimination, substance abuse, domestic instability, and illiteracy, to name a few.  These problems are barriers that make it difficult for children to learn effectively.  A child cannot learn if he or she is hungry or has no safe place to sleep. It is the responsibility of the community to assist in addressing these social barriers so students can have a positive academic experience. United Way is not involved in the 8 hours that children are in school – rather, we work to support them through the 18 hours of out-of-school time.

Girls Smiling


United Way commits to increasing the high school graduation rate in central Massachusetts by 10% by 2020.

To reach this goal, United Way supports programs outside of the typical school day. For example, we support programs in early childhood, after school, summer literacy, and mentoring.  We strive to ensure:

  • Children enter kindergarten ready to learn;
  • Students are able to read by 3rd grade;
  • Students are on track to graduate from high-school college or career ready.


Between 2010 and 2014, the four-year graduation rate in Worcester, MA rose by 10% from 69.2% to 79.2%.

United Way of Central Massachusetts invested more than $4.1 million in after-school/out-of-school programs so more than 31,000 youth had safe and nurturing opportunities outside of school.

United Way of Central Massachusetts invested more than $750,000 in high-quality, early education and care programs so more than 2,000 toddlers and preschoolers received high-quality early education and care.

Our Education Partners

  • African Community Education (ACE) Program 
    • After School Program
  • Ascentria Care Alliance 
    • Services for New Americans Adult Education and Financial Literacy
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central MA/Metrowest, Inc. 
    • Making a BIG Difference in Worcester
  • Central Massachusetts Housing Alliance
    •  P.O.W.E.R. Program
  • Community Healthlink, Inc. 
    • Together For Kids and  Support for Success: School Based Mental Health Services
  • Elm Park Center for Early Childhood Education
    •  Elm Park Children's Program
  • Family Health Center of Worcester, Inc.
    • Positive Directions!
  • Family Services of Central Massachusetts
    • Summer Literacy Initiative
  • Girls Incorporated of Worcester
    • Comprehensive K-12 Enrichment and Academic Enhancement for Abby Kelly
  • Guild of St. Agnes
    • Infant-Toddler Early Education & Care
  • Latino Education Institute (LEI)
    •  Club E and Innovative Services for Latino Students (ISLA)
  • Massachusetts Educational and Career Opportunities, Inc.
    • Collegiate Success Institute - CSI Worcester and Teen Parent Program
  • Nativity School of Worcester
    • Graduate Support Program
  • Rainbow Child Development Center
    • Preschool and School Age Program 
  • Regional Environmental Council, Inc.
    • Food Justice Program
  • Straight Ahead Ministries, Inc.
    • Worcester Youth Re-entry Program
  • The Bridge of Central Massachusetts
    • Safe Homes and  Supported Employment & Education
  • UMass Memorial HealthCare, Inc.
    • HOPE Coalition Mental Health Model
  • Webster Square Day Care Center, Inc.
    • Preschool Child Care
  • Worcester Community Action Council,Inc.
    • Project Excel
  • Worcester Food & Active Living Policy Council
    • 5210 Worcester
  • Worcester Roots Project
    • Co-Operative Youth Leadership Program
  • Youth Opportunities Upheld, Inc. 
    • Dynamy Youth Academy and  YouthConnect Worcester
  • YWCA of Central Massachusetts
    • Young Parents Program, Worcester Early Education and Care and  Girls Choice Middle/High School Program

For a full list of all programs we fund, and for a descriptions of these programs, click here.