CU Cradle 2 Career

Five images of people at various phases of life

How does one measure a “thriving community”?

Through its support of children, says renowned economist James Heckman.
That’s what Champaign-Urbana Cradle 2 Career (CUC2C) is here for!


  • Every $ spent on supports for children ages 0-3 yields an average of 1:11 return on society’s investment?
  • The best time to teach the social skills most wanted by employers is between the ages of 0-12.
  • Average student engagement is 75% in 5th grade and drops to a low of 30% by 11th grade?

Who we are

CUC2C are families, businesses, schools, unions, non-profits, faith communities, universities & colleges, and individuals.
Collaboration by community leaders interested in success for our children began in 2012 and CUC2C was launched in 2013.  We are in it for the long haul with the careful gathering of stakeholders, formation of a clear definition of success, thorough mapping of community resources so each child can graduate and succeed.

Anchor Entities


Kindergarten Readiness

Goal: Every child enters kindergarten ready to learn
67% were ready in 2014
69% were ready in 2015 

Anchor: United Way of Champaign County

Definition: A child who is kindergarten ready has met the Illinois Early Learning Standards.  Particularly the self-care, self-expression, inter-social and intra-social skills.

Team: The team is represented by 28 entities and has 37 members.

Why Kindergarten Readiness?:

  • Demands on kindergarteners today are similar to what was expected of 1st graders a generation ago
  • A child not kindergarten ready can impact the quality of education for the whole class
  • Starting behind can become the first domino to fall for the child and for the community, because the child is now:
    • 25% more likely to not graduate from high school
    • 40% more likely to become of teen parent
    • 60% more likely to not get a post-HS credential
    • 70% more likely to commit a crime as an adult

13 CUC2C partners directly involved; 800 volunteer hours

Support for Academic Success

Goal: Every student has the support needed for academic success

Definition: Successful students develop the characteristics and skills needed to:

  • Apply themselves toward their vision
  • Set personal and educational goals
  • Push through setbacks
  • Take pleasure in progress made

Why Support for Academic Success?

It is the community’s responsibility to provide the students, families, and schools access to the resources and opportunities necessary for student academic success.

  • 1 in 6 of the 3rd graders NOT reading at a grade level will also not graduate from high school on time, a rate 4 times greater than for “grade level” readers  (1)
  • If that 3rd grader lives in poverty, he/she is 13 times more likely not to graduate (2)
  • Eighth grade math success correlates both with high school and college readiness (3) 

National Research – Key Factors for Improving Achievement Are:

  • Social emotional skill building inside and outside of school (4)
  • Attendance (5)
  • Out-of-school support for students (6)

Many researchers summarize the problem like this: Too many children lack the crucial resources and opportunities inside and outside of schools that they need if they are to reach their potential.

Workforce Readiness

Goal: Every student is Workforce-Ready Upon Graduation

75.5% of students were prepared in 2015 (7)

Anchor Entity:
Champaign County Chamber of Commerce

The workforce ready student has the academic foundation, technical ability, work habits and interpersonal skills to succeed.

The team is represented by 19 entities and has 26 members.

Why Workforce Readiness?
An estimated 3 million jobs went unfilled in 2012 due to skills gaps; by 2018 7 million jobs are expected to go unfilled. (8) The largest gap is in the “soft” skills. These are the same set of skills critical to college success(9)  Having qualified students entering the workforce can lead local employers and businesses to experience quicker hiring cycles, have more qualified workers, and have a lower turnover rate in staffing. (10)

For more information contact Laura Weis at

High School Graduation

Goal: Every student will graduate from high school
A Gradnation national survey (13) cites the most common reasons for dropping out include:

  • Witnessing violence
  • Unsupportive/disrespectful school climates/policies
  • Personal or family health traumas

The “High School Graduation” goal team will:

  • Identify the local causes for dropping out.  
  • Find out which local/national programs inside and outside of school best address these causes.
  • Evaluate local programming for effectiveness
  • Address the barriers to access/success in these programs

Why High School Graduation?
According to, high school students are:

  • More likely to be employed, make higher taxable income, and aid in job generation 
  • Less likely to engage in criminal behavior or require social services
  • Have better health and longer life expectancy (11)

Every dropout can cost a community up to $392,000 in lost earnings, crime, etc. over to person’s lifetime. (12)   In 2014 the combined graduation rate for the three public high schools in C-U was 87.5%

Post-Secondary Credential

Goal: Every graduate will complete a post-secondary credential.

The Post-Secondary Credential Goal Team will:

  • Develop the team
  • Define success
  • Analyze need, programs, strategies
  • Develop chose strategies & set goals for change
  • Align, implement, measure progress and continuously improve

CUC2C will determine a launch date for this team contingent on progress of the Goal Teams currently active.

Why Post-Secondary?

  • TODAY 6 out of 10 jobs require some postsecondary education and/or training. (14)
  • By 2018 only 28% of jobs will be open to those with only a high school diploma. (15) 
  • Each 20-year-old permanently reconnected to education and/or employment will directly save the taxpayer $236 and will save a total cost of $704,000 over his or her lifetime. (16) 


  1. Hernandez, D.J. (2012) “Double Jeopardy: How 3rd Grade Reading Skills and Poverty Influence High School Graduation.” Found at
  2. Ibid.
  3. Closing the Opportunity Gap: What America Must DO to Give Every Child an Even Chance. (2013) New York: Oxford University Press.
  4. “The Positive Impact of Social and Emotional Learning for Kindergarten to Eighth-Grade Students.” Found at:…
  5. “Absences Add Up: How School Attendance Influence Student Success.” Found at:…
  6. “Afterschool Programs: Making a Difference in America’s Communities by Improving Academic Achievement, Keeping Kids Safe and Helping Working Families.” Found at: www.afterschoolalliance,org/after_out.cfm
  7. Combined scores of both school districts for the 67% ready level according to ACT WorkKeys. Found at:
  8. US Chamber of Commerce.  Found at
  9. “Developing Social Emotional Skills for the Labor Market.: (2013) A policy research paper of the World Bank.  Found at: developing-social-emotional-skills-labor-market-practice-model
  10. “Are they really ready to work?  Employers’ perspectives on the basic knowledge and applied skills of New Entrants to the 21st century U.S. workforce”. As found at:
  12. Sum, A., Khatiwada, I., McLaughlin, J., & Palma, S. (2009). The consequences of dropping out of high school.  Center for Labor Market Studies Publications.
  14. New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Foundation
  15. Georgetown University Center on Education and Workforce
  16. Act Policy Report