GREENWICH — Calling it nothing short of “groundbreaking,” the Greenwich United Way is getting set to unveil its new Early Childhood Achievement Gap Solutions Program.

Designed to close the achievement gap in student performance in town classrooms, the program will be conducted as a partnership with Greenwich Public Schools, the YMCA of Greenwich, Family Centers and others.

“I’m not sure anyone else has tried to address the achievement gap in this way yet,” said David Rabin, CEO of the Greenwich United Way. “No one agency can solve the achievement gap issue. But when you unite several agencies together, you have a greater opportunity to do so. This is a research-based, data-driven solution.”

Some $1.26 million has been raised to fund the program for three years.

It will have a two-pronged approach. First will be an in-home birth-to-3 component called Parents as Teachers, followed by an instructional program in preschools run by the YMCA and Family Centers.

At-risk kids in Greenwich enter school scoring 28 points to 36 points behind their peers on standardized tests, Rabin said.

“Our three priority areas for this year are early childhood education, mental health and self-sufficiency,” Rabin said. “This strikes right at the heart of what we’re doing. … This is going to get them on a level playing field. It’s proven by data that when an at-risk child goes through these two programs, they’re going to get on that level playing field with their peers.”

The program will be formally launched at 9 a.m. May 15 at Greenwich Library. Janice Gruendel, an expert in early childhood education from the Ziglar Institute at Yale University, will deliver an address on its benefits.

Launching in May will enable work to begin during the summer before the new school year starts, Rabin said.

The effort has the endorsement of Superintendent of Schools Jill Gildea. The school district is assisting with the hiring to staff the program, Rabin said.

“With focus, attention and efforts, the Greenwich community has coalesced around Early Childhood Achievement Gap Solutions in an effort to eradicate pervasive gaps that are evident as early as during the preschool years,” Gildea said. “With this intervention program and services model, our most vulnerable youth receive expert attention, care and support in an effort to better prepare them to access educational experiences.”

Rabin gave credit to Nancy Weissler for spearheading the effort. A Greenwich United Way board member and former chairman of the town Board of Education, Weissler has seen first-hand the effects of the achievement gap.

“This is someone who knows what she is doing when it comes to research,” Rabin said. “She is our volunteer lead on this.”

The United Way is looking for more donors to learn about the program and support it. More information is available at

Donors have been excited to support the program, Rabin said.

“Early childhood education is something that really tugs at the heartstrings,” he said. “Having children entering kindergarten on a level playing field helps everyone. For every dollar invested in a program like this, there is an $8.60 return, and everyone would want a return on investment like that. People would give all their money for a return like that.”