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United Way Born Learning Academy

Map of Kentucky counties with a United Way Born Learning Academy

All children are born learning. In the first few years of life, a child's brain is formed by experiences and environments. This lays the foundation for learning. As a child's first and best teacher, parents provide the interaction and nurturing relationships young children need to learn. United Way Born Learning Academies partner with families to make the most of learning in the early years.

In Kentucky, half of children do not arrive at kindergarten ready to learn. Through United Way Born Learning Academies, families can take an active role in getting their child ready for kindergarten starting from birth. The program offers practical ideas to turn everyday moments into learning opportunities. Through a series of six free workshops, parents, families and caregivers learn about child development and how to spark learning opportunities during ordinary routines like bath times and grocery trips. Workshops are open to all families with children from birth to age five. Free childcare and dinner are provided. Many offer prizes and graduations at the conclusion of the program. Workshops take place in elementary schools and are coordinated by local Family Resource and Youth Service Centers.

There are 161 United Way Born Learning Academies in 76 Kentucky counties. By 2017, there will be 214 United Way Born Learning Academies operating across the state.


Inspired by The Harlem Children’s Zone Project in New York and United Way’s Born Learning campaign, former Kenton County Superintendent Tim Hanner partnered with United Way of Greater Cincinnati Success By 6, Northern Kentucky University faculty, and local schools to develop and launch the Born Learning Academy in 2009. In 2012, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky committed $1 million to fund 50 Born Learning Academies over 5 years. In 2014, the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood pledged $1.4 million from the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant to expand the program by 150 Academies. Today, the partnership includes The Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, United Way of Greater Cincinnati Success By 6, The Governor’s Office of Early Childhood, United Way of Kentucky, Toyota and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

If you have any questions about the United Way Born Learning Academy program, contact Katie Morris, Born Learning Coordinator, at