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Academics First, Who Are We?

As with any great thing, our story begins with a dream, but a dream alone isn’t enough...that is, until you see a light of opportunity shine before you.

"Serving the Families and Community of Utica, NY in partnership with United Way of the Mohawk Valley."

Here's Our Story

The Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative- Utica (ESPRI-U), is an investment in combatting poverty and creating economic mobility for residents in the City of Utica, NY. Our local United Way convened multiple focus groups and workgroups with human service agencies, community leaders and people living in poverty to resolute a common goal and turn our story around in Utica, NY by creating mobility for residents and advancing the common good for all. In that spirit a town hall meeting was held giving the community a chance to vote on the projects that addressed their greatest barrier, with the community choice being extended day child care. During that town hall, local clergywoman Pastor Kathy Hughes of Deliverance First Ministries, believed that this new and exciting possibility would be a tremendous asset in furthering her dream of providing safe, quality child care during non-traditional hours to Utica, NY residents. Pastor Hughes believes that all families deserve to have the same opportunities in life and should not have to forgo employment or education due to lack of child care. Her passion is fueled by life experiences with people who went above and beyond to change the trajectory of her own life. We believe that child care provided by Academics First will make a huge difference in the lives of local children and families. With support from many entities, government, agencies and the local community the “dream” of an extended day early childhood education program is a choice available to families seeking quality child care that will support and sustain their choices for a better future.

With Pastor Hughes also being part of our education system, she has noticed children not ready for school and struggling in school due to various circumstances. With her very large heart and through partnership with United Way of the Valley and Greater Utica Area, Academics First was born. An extended day child care program, where families and child care center are working together to provide a quality, safe, loving and nurturing educational environment with non-traditional hours.

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