Philanthropists’ donation boosts Kindergarten Readiness Collaborative

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — A county-wide effort to ensure all children reach kindergarten healthy and ready to learn received a significant boost this summer from visionary philanthropists Marlynn and Bill Scully whose charitable investment will accelerate collaborative strategies developed by community leaders over the past year.

The Kindergarten Readiness Collaborative (KRC) formed more than a year ago as an offshoot of the community’s Moonshot Moment goal to have 90 percent of all third graders reading on grade level by 2018. The initiative is an all-volunteer effort comprised of 40 child care providers, nonprofit organizations, funders and community leaders who understand that kindergarten readiness is one of the most pivotal pillars in determining third grade reading success, said Meredith Egan, KRC Chair and Chief Operating Officer for the United Way of Indian River County.

“For the past year, community leaders have spent countless hours together building a base of knowledge about the current state of early learning in our community and national best practices we can incorporate into our work to impact readiness rates,” Egan said. “After a year of planning, we are ready to share the most promising strategies vetted during the planning process.”

Thanks to the Scully’s generous gift, the growing momentum of the Kindergarten Readiness Collaborative will now be facilitated by two part-time professionals, Jessie Ray and Shannon Maitland, who will assist the KRC in managing the implementation of the newly crafted Strategic Plan. Mrs. Scully said she and her husband believe the Collaborative has the potential to transform a critical component of our local education system and will have long-term impact on the prosperity of Indian River County.

“We are very impressed with the collaborative effort so many community leaders voluntarily committed to creating this life-changing strategic plan realizing the importance of establishing community-wide goals,” Mrs. Scully said. “Bill and I encourage others to get involved early in supporting this effort so the work can be scaled efficiently and effectively. Working together we will make a difference offering Indian River County children unprecedented opportunity to improve the quality of their lives. Join us!”

The Strategic Plan is intended to encourage community stakeholders to align limited resources around opportunities that will have the greatest impact on improving kindergarten readiness in Indian River County. One of the top priorities for Ray and Maitland will be to help the community build a strong, client-focused, coordinated early childhood service system. Housed in the United Way Nonprofit Incubation Center, Ray will serve as the KRC Manager and Maitland is the KRC Coordinator.

Ray has lived in Vero Beach periodically throughout her youth. Prior to returning to Vero Beach in 2014, she worked for several years coordinating early childhood human services in Virginia. She holds a Master’s Degree in Urban and Environmental Planning from the University of Virginia.

Maitland moved to Florida to earn a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Florida Gulf Coast University. Over the past four years, she has served as a grant writer for nonprofit agencies. Her proposals have been awarded nearly $2 million dollars through grant awards, fundraisers, and campaigns. She has also been active with parent leadership councils and youth development initiatives.

Together Ray and Maitland are coordinating the next Kindergarten Readiness Collaborative Summit to be held 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tue., Nov. 10. To learn more, call Ray or Maitland (772) 617-4350 or email

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