Statewide Expansion of Born Learning Academies

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Charleston, W.Va. –  Governor Earl Ray Tomblin announced that the United Way Born Learning Academy program will expand to additional West Virginia schools in 2016. The Governor clearly believes children who enter school prepared are more likely to read at grade level, graduate from high school, and to be college and career ready.

The Education Alliance, Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia (TMMWV), and the United Way are working together to help parents, grandparents and caregivers explore ways to turn everyday moments into fun learning opportunities. The Born Learning Academy program connects schools with families of young children during the critical period of early learning (birth to Pre-K) prior to school enrollment. Families participate in “academy” trainings where they learn how to create teachable moments for their children. The Education Alliance is seeking three to six new schools to partner in its program expansion for 2016-2017. Applications are now available at

“Since learning starts long before school does, achievement gaps can develop before children begin kindergarten,” said Dr. Courts, President and CEO of The Education Alliance. “We believe families with young children need support to help set children on the right track for learning. The Born Learning Academy helps busy parents turn everyday moments into learning opportunities to support school readiness.”

The program is currently offered in six West Virginia schools: Aurora Elementary School (Preston), Buffalo Elementary School (Putnam), East Lynn Elementary School (Wayne), Highlawn Elementary School (Cabell), Leon Elementary School (Mason), and Poca Elementary School (Putnam). More than 180 local families participated in the program this fall. Feedback from program participants indicate that: 93% of program participants reported implementing workshop activities at home; 88% reported they know how to make reading fun for their children and 79% reported they understand why getting enough sleep in important for learning.

The Born Learning Academy program was originally developed in Kentucky by the United Way of Kentucky and Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. in 2009. The concept is based on the Harlem Children’s Zone Baby College and emphasizes the importance of early learning. The West Virginia-based academies are part of program expansion to states with Toyota manufacturing plants.

“We are committed to helping develop the workforce for the future, not just for Toyota but for all business and industry,” said Millie Marshall, President, TMMWV. “And research has shown that setting that future worker on the path to success really begins at birth and with directed parent education. TMMWV is proud to make this investment, through Born Learning Academies, in the future of our company and in the future of the state.”

The six lesson Born Learning series teaches busy, overwhelmed parents and caregivers how to turn everyday moments into learning opportunities. The school-based workshops allow a meaningful conversation to start with parents early, offering them the essential building blocks of education to support their child's future academic successes and to create a strong connection between home and school. Parents of young children are engaged in hands-on activities and discussion about what it means to be ready for kindergarten and offered strategies they can use at home to maximize their child’s early learning and development.

Born Learning Academy school applications will be accepted through April 15, 2016. For more information or to apply, visit or contact Emily Pratt at 304-342-7850 or