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Your Future Real Estate Transaction can Help Holland Kids Achieve their Potential

As a member of Investing In Communities®, Ready for School can receive funding as a result of any brokered real estate transaction – home sales, home purchases, or commercial leases. As more supporters use this platform, before engaging a real estate agent, Ready for School will have more resources to continue helping kids reach their full potential.

Have an Awesome School Year

Mission and Vision

Potential is equally distributed across a population, opportunity is not. But that’s where Ready for School comes in with a vision for children to reach their full unique potential. Our organization delivers on our mission to prepare children for success in kindergarten by equipping parents and families through the integrated support of Holland, Zeeland, and Hamilton. Our strategies are guided by local data, parent input, and early learning expertise. As a privately funded organization we have flexibility to use data “to go where the need is greatest” contributing in meaningful ways in real time. We are an investment in the future of communities and our blueprint to potential is paying dividends – increasing kindergarten readiness from 43% in 2009 to 70% in 2019.

In the last decade, we’ve learned there isn’t one intervention or a single solution to this complex social issue. But we do know what progress looks like: Access to quality year round early learning, a summer kindergarten readiness boot camp, professional development for early childhood educators, and providing pediatric medical providers with a tool for increasing literacy and immunization compliance, are examples of what is making the difference.  

With the onset of COVID 19, our collective reality has changed but commitment to carrying out Ready for School’s mission continues, more important now than ever before. So, while we celebrate 70%, we realize the hard work ahead of us to reach the next 30%.  

In order to achieve successful outcomes, the community must create an environment where early childhood strategies thrive. An integrated, community-wide, multi-sector, whole-child approach to early childhood development is required. Ready for School’s driving purpose is to build community infrastructure to support families. We call it KIDfrastructure.

Accessing Early Childhood Learning

When children enter kindergarten ready to learn, 82% master basic skills by age 11, compared to 45% for children who aren’t prepared. Kindergarten readiness is a powerful predictor of success. Children with access to high-quality early learning make cognitive and social gains that equip them with a foundation for school success and benefits that last a lifetime.

High-quality early childhood education is the foundation for thriving communities and healthy economies. Children left out of early childhood education and quality pre-K learning experiences find themselves at a distinct disadvantage and may struggle to catch up for the rest of their school years. The impact is felt by our most vulnerable children. Investing in early learning is especially crucial for disadvantaged children; it has been shown to be the most effective way to break the cycle of poverty.

The disparity in access to early learning resources is staggering. The impact for children who grow up without sufficient exposure to high-quality early learning experiences is a student who struggles with early literacy in early grades. An American Pediatrics Association study shows that only 20 percent of 4-year-olds in poverty can recognize all 26 letters, compared with 37 percent of their peers at or above the poverty level. When they start off behind, chances are they will stay behind, never achieving their full potential. 

Children who attend high-quality early childhood learning opportunities (like preschool) are more likely to be ready for school (17% increase in our community). Attending high-quality early learning programs can provide rewards that last a lifetime including: higher test scores throughout grades K-12; a lower rate of grade repetition and special education placements; greater rates of high school graduates and college attendance; and increased employment rates and higher earnings as adults.

Girl with The Night Before Kindergarten


Ready for School evolved out of a community assessment conducted in 2007 by the Community Foundation of Holland/Zeeland where an early literacy screen administered across school districts showed that fewer than half of children entering kindergarten in Holland and Zeeland were prepared with the skills necessary to be successful in the classroom and in life. Fewer than half. The results revealed a critical need to do better – beginning in our own backyard. The Community Foundation provided start-up funding to research and develop an initiative, which in 2011 transitioned to a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization and expanded to include Hamilton.

As a result of the Community Foundation of Holland Zeeland’s leadership in convening a community forum involving approximately 100 community stakeholders in 2007; early childhood education was recognized as the single-most important challenge facing our present and future development. At that time, less than half of our community’s children were ready for school when they entered kindergarten at age five. In response to the critical need to address this challenge the foundation became the catalyst for Ready for School.

  • In 2008, a highly qualified group of leaders were appointed as the Readiness Council and charged to lead the effort. The Council recruited members from the medical, preschool, child care, government and community agencies, education, faith-based, and employer sectors and organized task forces for each area of focus. In addition to the task forces, community members were called together to form special committees to develop the overall work plan. A common definition of readiness and assessment for incoming kindergartners was adopted by all area schools (public, private and charter).  
  • In 2010 a goal of 75% kindergarten readiness was established.
  • In 2011, Ready for School was granted 501 (c)(3) non-profit status and leadership transitioned to a Board of Directors. Since its inception Ready for School experienced rapid growth followed by steady maintenance of outcomes. 
  • A rigorous strategic review in 2016 identified that moving the kindergarten readiness needle from 63-75% will require different organizational focus and strategies than the initial gains from 55-63%. Ready for School’s Strategic Plan 2020 has shifted to community model creation.

Key accomplishments to date: 

  • Raising community-level awareness of the value of investing in early childhood 
  • Defining the focus areas of readiness. These areas have been incorporated into a simple but powerful multi-lingual bookmark that simplifies the readiness message: 
    • Social and emotional development. This dimension includes children’s ability to interact socially; for example, children must be able to interact appropriately with teachers and peers, and be able to follow directions and communicate their needs. Additionally, children should be able to understand and express their own emotions as well as the emotions of other people. 
    • Physical well-being and motor development. This dimension includes conditions before, at and after birth such as general health and nutrition, exposure to toxic substances, as well as physical abilities like gross and fine motor skills. 
    • Approaches to learning. This includes children’s enthusiasm, curiosity and persistence on using skills, knowledge and capacities. 
    • Language development. This dimension includes verbal listening, speaking and vocabulary, as well as emerging literacy. 
    • Cognition and general knowledge. This dimension addresses children’s knowledge of and ability to discern similarities, differences and associations across objects, events or people. 

Establishing a common assessment and evaluation partnership with all school districts and systems in Holland and Zeeland. This has allowed the procurement of data necessary to evaluate the early childhood landscape, identify gaps/ parent obstacles and target community efforts toward those most in need.

  • Forming public/private partnerships, integrating efforts and engaging all sectors on early childhood 
  • Expanding opportunities, improving access and enhancing the quality of programs and services for young children and their families
  • Being a recognized and trusted referral resource:  73% of parents of incoming kindergartners in Holland and Zeeland recognize the Ready for School brand, an increase from 16% in 2011
  • Business investment:  over 70 corporate & small business investors have invested since 2011

In the last decade, we’ve learned there isn’t one intervention or a single solution to this complex social issue. But we do know what progress looks like: Access to quality year round early learning, a summer kindergarten readiness boot camp, professional development for early childhood educators, and providing pediatric medical providers with a tool for increasing literacy and immunization compliance, are examples of what is making the difference.  

Kids with backpacks


Working alongside parents, preschool and childcare providers and community partners we identify obstacles, test new approaches, promote innovation, and develop better ways to meet the needs of both children and the adults in their lives. Commitment to this process drives our strategies, motivates community partnerships and defines areas of replicability. 

Ready for School is leading the work of increasing kindergarten readiness at a powerful intersection: PEOPLE. PLACE. POTENTIAL. 



Ready for School partners with health care practices to provide pre-literacy opportunities for children and their parents. When kids are healthy, they are better able to learn and thrive in school and life. This underscores why engaging health care partners is a core Ready for School strategy for increasing kindergarten readiness. 

The research is clear: 90 percent of a child’s brain is developed by the time he or she reaches the age of five. Early environments characterized by high levels of stress, turmoil, and uncertainty, lead the developing brain to focus on areas of the brain associated with basic survival, at the expense of the development of other areas of the brain, including areas associated with language development, self-control, and good decision-making. Because Ready for School recognizes this link, our work is focused on cultivating healthy social and emotional development in our country’s youngest, most vulnerable children, valuing the important role parents play in that development, and seizing the opportunity for medical professionals to better support parents in this role. 


The entrepreneurs who run more than 150 licensed in-home and center-based child care in Holland, Zeeland and Hamilton are the individuals responsible for partnering with parents and teaching children at the most critical time for brain development. 

In addition to trainings, access to resources, and educator scholarships, monthly roundtables hosted by Ready for School allow for professional development, networking, information and referral sharing and help to establish an open communication channel for sharing best practices, needs and obstacles ultimately increasing quality of care


Ready for School addresses the leading obstacles that families face in obtaining a high-quality early learning experience for their children, including cost, trust, transportation, and hours of operation. We partner with the state and federally funded preschool programs (Head Start and Great Start Readiness) to refer families who qualify fully leveraging public dollars. Our partnership helps ensure all options in the community are being utilized. 

For the last six years we have offered a summer readiness camp for soon-to-be kindergarten students at no cost to families who qualify based on financial need. At the onset of the pandemic Ready for School conducted focus groups with early childhood experts, public/private preschool providers, parents, and educators to discuss emerging needs. These discussions illuminated two things: parents need help and online resources alone aren’t adequate for this age group. We retooled summer readiness by combining a bilingual toolkit with school supplies, quick learning activities, and neighborhood class sessions facilitated by teachers.

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At no cost to themselves, anyone who cares about better biking in Illinois can turn virtually any brokered real estate transaction into funding for Ride Illinois. For example, the purchase or sale of a $300,000 home can result in about $1,300 of free funding. Support Ride Illinois’ mission by using IIC’s free platform to make arrangements with an agent you already have in mind. Or use IIC to find and choose among real estate agents that are appropriate for the specifics of your residential or commercial real estate needs.

Ready For School in the Media

Location: Holland, MI

Focus Area: Education, Health and Wellness, Social Justice

Budget: $500k - $1 million

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As a tax exempt 501(c)3 organization, Ready for School is eligible to receive at least 70% of the referral fee when you use Investing In Communities (IIC) to sign up with ANY real estate broker to handle your residential or commercial property transaction. Referral fees are a common expense paid by brokers only to other brokers for much desired referrals. As a licensed broker with a charitable mission, IIC is able to accept referral fees and pass most of those funds to your charity of choice - at no cost to you.
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