United Way of Southwest Alabama adopts a comprehensive approach to education that spans all the way from cradle to career and beyond. By supporting programs that provide quality education for students of all ages, we are investing in brighter, more secure futures for individuals and families living in Southwest Alabama.

  • Kindergarten Readiness
  • Reading & Math Proficiency
  • High School Graduation
  • College & Career Readiness
Why It Matters
  • 69% of students in our four-county coverage area are not reading proficiently by the fourth grade
  • Children who cannot read at grade level by the end of the third grade are four times less likely to graduate from high school

If every person in Choctaw, Clarke, Mobile, and Washington counties graduated high school, there would be:


fewer people in poverty


fewer unemployed


percent more dollars in average earnings

What Is Working
  • More than 500 children ages 6 weeks through 5 years received high-quality early learning services on a weekly basis throughout 2020 (Child Day Care Association & Gulf Regional Early Childhood Services)
  • 95% of students participating in the After School Academy in 2019 demonstrated improved reading and math scores (Dearborn YMCA)
  • 98% of mentees in 2020 reported being more confident they will finish high school (Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Alabama)
  • 1,080 students enrolled in the Adult Education Program in 2019 through individualized intake sessions (Goodwill Easter Seals of the Gulf Coast)

Education Collaborations

Attendance Collaborations
Each year, United Way of Southwest Alabama, Mobile County Public School System, and Mobile County Commissioner Merceria Ludgood join a nationwide effort to celebrate Attendance Awareness Month in September and pledge to raise awareness about the value of regular school attendance and focus on reducing absenteeism in the new school year.

Within MCPSS, 3.1% of students, or more than 2,500 students, were chronically absent during the 2013-2014 school year, according to the latest data from Alabama School Connection.

To help promote good attendance, UWSWA and Commissioner Ludgood distribute more than 30,000 flyers with tips for developing good attendance habits to families at every MCPSS elementary school and host Attendance Celebrations to applaud outstanding attendance at Mobile County public elementary schools.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program was designed to encourage reading to preschool children. Each month after a child is registered – up until their fifth birthday – a carefully selected, age-appropriate book is sent to the child’s home.

There is no cost to the family; UWSWA provides the books free of charge. Currently, children living in Choctaw County are eligible.

A total of 407 children were served in Mobile County and together received 53,456 books in 2020. In Choctaw County, 111 children were served by the Imagination Library and 1,069 Books were distributed to them last year.