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STEVENS POINT, Wis. (Sep. 5, 2017) ­– For many people, the term “investing” conjures up images of blue chip stocks, precious metals, and IPOs. But for some Portage County leaders, the young children in our communities offer a far more substantial return on investment.
Skyward, Inc., a Stevens Point-based provider of K-12 administrative software, has partnered with Born Learning to create a data collection tool that will help children in Portage County receive the support they need during the earliest years of life. With 85 percent of brain development occurring by the age of three, this is a critical window for giving young children the strongest start in life.
“Because the success of Born Learning hinges on collecting data from families with young children, partnering with Skyward seemed like a natural fit,” said Lisa Falduto, United Way’s Born Learning engagement specialist. “Ultimately, the goal is to have the Skyward Early Childhood system communicate with the current K-12 Skyward system used by all four school districts in Portage County.”
“It’s not often we hear someone make the case for investing in young children, but when we learned about Born Learning from United Way we instantly recognized the long-term economic impact that it could have in our communities,” said Ray Ackerlund, chief marketing officer at Skyward. “Getting involved in this initiative will help our children and grandchildren compete in the global economy and will also ensure that our local organizations have a high-quality workforce for many years to come.”
Serving over 1,900 school districts and more than 6 million students worldwide, Skyward is one of 15 local Born Learning partners. Other partners include United Way of Portage County, Delta Dental of Wisconsin, Ministry/Ascension, Sentry Insurance, Stevens Point Area Public School District, Tomorrow River Schools, Marshfield Clinic, Rosholt School District, CAP Services, Inc., Aspirus, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Almond-Bancroft Public School District, Medical College of Wisconsin, and Portage County Health & Human Services.
Born Learning’s vision is that all children in Portage County will be safe, healthy, and ready for kindergarten. Six area gateway partners, along with the United Way of Portage County, have been working collectively to build a community system that creates and invests in opportunities for children to realize lifelong success. Steering committee representatives overseeing the initiative include representatives from the partners listed above, as well as other community leaders.
Falduto said the first phase of Born Learning is to fund home visitation services to families with children (prenatal to age five) who need support. Home visitors will bring families educational materials and resources that promote child development, health, safety, and family support. The data collection tool being developed by Skyward, will measure progress, by seeking continuous improvement to participating Born Learning programs and services, based on outcomes and indicators that are being developed and will be tracked by providers in the county.
Born Learning partnered with Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin earlier in 2017 to provide home visitation services, currently funded by Portage County’s Health and Human Services department, and United Way of Portage County. This project is funded in part by the Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment at the Medical College of Wisconsin. More information about Born Learning is available online at or by calling 715-341-6740.

About United Way of Portage County
United Way of Portage County brings people and resources together to achieve measurable results that improve people’s lives and strengthen our community. We strive to create opportunities for a better tomorrow by focusing on the building blocks for a better life—education, income, health, and community basics. Everyone in the community is invited to be a part of this effort. Give, advocate, and volunteer. LIVE UNITED. To learn more, visit