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Main Street America’s Impactful Partnership with Woodland Acres Elementary School and UNF

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--For the ninth consecutive year, The Main Street America Group is continuing its impactful private business-public school partnership with Jacksonville’s Woodland Acres Elementary School, a Duval County (Fla.) Public School located in the city’s Arlington neighborhood, and the University of North Florida (UNF) College of Education and Human Services.

Main Street America’s annual back-to-school supply drive is one example of the Jacksonville-based property/casualty insurance carrier’s year-round support of the elementary school. The company’s Jacksonville-based employees recently donated thousands of much-needed items, including notebook paper, pencils, erasers, copy paper, washable markers, highlighters and other items. A truckload of boxes, the most ever donated by the company’s employees, were delivered to the school so teachers could select the items they needed to set up their classrooms for the first day of the 2017-18 school year.

“This is a blessing for our teachers. I feel like I am now ready to effectively teach my students,” said Woodland Acres kindergarten teacher Rebecca Kleckner after selecting the Main Street America-donated supplies she needed for her classroom.

“Main Street America has truly helped take a weight off of our shoulders with their generosity of donating all of these supplies,” added Woodland Acres second-grade teacher Stephanie Penn.

In addition to the supply drive and a student book drive/book fair held last spring, which enabled every K-2 student at Woodland Acres to select a book to take home and keep for summer reading, a team of dedicated Main Street America employees tutors students at the school’s campus each month throughout the school year. Employees spend valuable one-on-one time with assigned students on campus, focusing on literacy learning.

Main Street America’s partnership with Woodland Acres began in 2009 in conjunction with UNF’s College of Education and Human Services. What started small has grown into impactful year-round involvement with the elementary school, considered the “flagship” for the university’s award-winning Urban Professional Development School program.

“Main Street America is really making a difference in our community and it stands as an example of how we can help the economic prosperity of our community by building our workforce and creating early interest in careers and business opportunities for students that may have never had that opportunity before,” said Dr. Diane Yendol-Hoppey, dean of the UNF College of Education and Human Services.

Annual Fifth-Grade Field Trip

Main Street America’s partnership includes hosting an interactive field trip at its corporate headquarters. Each spring, Main Street America welcomes Woodland Acres’ entire fifth grade class to its Southside offices. Nearly 100 students participated this year, learning the basics of the property/casualty insurance industry and what it is like to work at a locally based company. Activities during this very unique event included an office tour and brief presentations from members of the company’s claims, underwriting, information technology and product teams.

“During the field trip, Main Street America provides the Woodland Acres students with an opportunity to see careers in action and the opportunity to dig deeper into the world of business. That is exceptionally important for kids to experience today to help them get ready for the careers of tomorrow,” Yendol-Hoppey said.

Dr. Susan Syverud, UNF professor-in-residence at Woodland Acres, added,” The Main Street America partnership with UNF and Woodland Acres impacts each student child-by-child. Whether it is providing a book for summer reading, being at the school to tutor our students or providing the opportunity for students to visit Main Street America’s Jacksonville headquarters. The bottom line is Main Street America is there for you.”

Yendol-Hoppey concluded, “I have never seen a corporate partner show this level of sustained long-term commitment. We need other local businesses to take on the model of Main Street America to help our partnership schools dig deeper and innovate more. It is really important because in urban schools, we really don’t have the resources and human capital to do what some more affluent communities can do. But Main Street America has made a significant difference in our Northeast Florida community by bringing those resources to the table to help all of these students learn and succeed.”