R4K (Ready for Kindergarten)

image of children in learning setting, playing together with blocks, and toys, with R4K logo

R4K’s (Ready for Kindergarten) mission is to unite families, schools, and community resources to prepare children to reach their full potential by focusing on school readiness. R4K Family School Navigators engage local resources ensuring children start school ready to learn and continue their education fully engaged, paving the way for career and life success.

Ready to Learn. Ready for Life.

Most students who start behind, stay behind. Research shows that children who enter school ready to learn are more likely to achieve early reading proficiency by third grade, and consequently more likely to graduate high school on time. 

Growing up in an adverse family household can significantly impact a child’s school readiness. Often, these children achieve less in school, repeat grades, and drop out. As adults, they earn less and experience higher rates of delinquency and crime.

R4K is a step ladder toward scholastic achievement — improving school readiness and supporting children and parents to make a positive impact during those early years. R4K’s benefits stack up over time: students who graduate high school are more likely to find a job that pays a livable wage, lives healthier lives, stays out of the justice system, and have children who also graduate high school on time.

Children are ready for Kindergarten when they begin school prepared to engage in and benefit from early learning experiences that best promote their success.

R4K goes beyond early education programs — by providing a direct connection to children and families, R4K enables United Way to address the whole child: academic, emotional, physical, and social needs.

the R4k approach, includes details about social-emotional, education, physical wellness importance as a whole

What is School Readiness?

Four Vital Developmental Areas

  • Communication, language, and literacy
  • General Knowledge of the world
  • Physical development and health
  • Social and emotional development


  • The child can get dressed, put on a coat, and use the bathroom without help
  • The child talks about their thoughts and feelings
  • The child shows empathy, kindness, and caring for others
  • The child adapts well to new situations
  • The child knows shapes, letters, and numbers
  • The child can hold a pencil, write their name, and use scissors

R4K Partnerships

United Way's R4K initiative partners with 24 local school districts throughout Herkimer and Oneida County to gather the information that helps United Way and its partners better identify and help our community's families and children.

With our newest partnership with Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES, all schools in our two-county area can partner with United Way and its Family School Navigators to set our community’s children up for a brighter and better tomorrow.

Currently, we have R4K FSN's housed in several school districts.

Herkimer County School Districts: Central Valley, Dolgeville, Frankfort-Schuyler, Herkimer, Little Falls, Town of Webb
Oneida County School Districts: Holland Patent, Oriskany, Remsen, Vernon-Verona-Sherrill

How R4K Makes an Impact: Jason's Story

group of children in learning setting‘Jason’, a 4-year-old boy, was attending speech sessions with a local school Speech Pathologist but was frequently missing sessions. In the most recent session, he was displaying anxiety. The Speech Pathologist was able to refer Jason to United Way’s Family School Navigator (FSN) to help Jason further. 

Our FSN utilized our standard Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) and identified that Jason was struggling with social and emotional challenges. Our FSN also recognized that Jason was not enrolled in any Pre-K programs.

Part of what makes our R4K work successful is its ability to connect with families and provide solutions to resources on a regular basis through home visits and specific readiness activities, which is exactly how we were able to help Jason and his family. Our R4K FSN referred Jason to BOCES Pre-K and assisted the family with Kindercamp registration. They also shared opportunities for local community events that could help with Jason’s socialization skills.

When both the child's and parent’s needs are addressed, the child’s barriers to learning are eliminated and the child begins to thrive. Ensuring Jason’s mother received support was just as important. Our FSN referred her to ICAN for a Family Peer Advocate and well as helped with shopping for Christmas.

Soon, Jason began attending Pre-K one day a week and then Kindercamp, where he gained additional social skills and built relationships with kindergarten staff and other children. Jason’s mom began bringing him to speech therapy regularly and has learned about better organizational skills, how to better handle her child’s anxiety, about other community resources and is feeling less overwhelmed.

Invest in our Children's Future

By supporting United Way and our R4K initiative you are investing in our children today and the success of our next generation.

Donate Today.

Questions about our R4K initiative? Contact Robin Robinson at RobinR@unitedwaymv.org or 315-733-4691, ext. 240.