Jackie Crego reported the key results of the Education Task Force research efforts as the following: 
  • 27.5% of Chester County children reside in families earning less than the Federal maximum income defining poverty -  $25,750 for a family of four. A high percentage of these residents are non-Cuban Hispanic. 
  • Non Cuban American Hispanics are also one of the most educationally vulnerable minority groups in the U.S. with 44% of their children starting kindergarten somewhat behind their peers; by age 13 they are at least one year below expected grade level performance; and more than 40% drop out before completing high school. 
The costs of this low educational performance is high. Within the education system it raises the cost through grade repetition, high levels of truancy and the efforts to combat it. Since a high percentage of the students performing below grade level don't graduate high school, there is also the long term cost of a lower quality work force at a time when education and skill requirements are increasing. These costs are reversed when failing students are helped to succeed. Tests run in other areas have shown the return from improving kindergarten readiness is $17 for every dollar invested. This research convinced the committee that early education had to be an early focus. 
There are programs in Southern Chester County that are successful in improving kindergarten readiness, which today means having the child possibly reading, definitely recognizing numbers and letters, counting, and having other basic skills. One successful program is operated by the Maternal and Child Health Consortium (MCHC). It is a comprehensive program with evening classes that teach young parents how to become educators of their children by speaking with them, reading to them, and other simple learning/teaching activities. The group learning is supported by home visits to work with individual families.
The entire program was at risk when MCHC found it extremely difficult to get the target families to the evening classes. These families could not afford baby sitters, often have transportation issues, and struggled to find time to have dinner before the meetings since they frequently work multiple jobs. When financial assistance was provided to overcome these barriers 78 families with 92 children participated. The level of preparedness for Kindergarten was significantly improved, as reported by the kindergarten teachers. 
Our Longwood Club Foundation committed $2,000 to support the full $8,800 cost for a year of the MCHC program. Then Bob Curran, Foundation president, invited other clubs to join us in this project and sought District and Gundaker grants. The net result was to fully fund the program's required $8,800. The District donated $4,400, the Gundaker Foundation donated $1,000 and the West Chester lunch club donated $2,200. The effort to acquire funding through Rotary sources wa sso successful, our $2,000 commitment will not be fully spent on this initiative.