Name: The Rev. Matthew Johnson

Age: 41

Occupation/profession: Senior minister, Unitarian Universalist Church, Rockford

TR Project Team: Ready to Learn Team

Project update: We are getting ready for a census of every kindergartner in Rockford, using the Early Developmental Instrument. This tool (the EDI) will help us assess, on a neighborhood by neighborhood level, the strengths and vulnerabilities of our children and their families. We’ll use that data to drive interventions and alignment between agencies, volunteers, and more. We’ve gathered a Pilot Team of community members, leaders, and actors who will help guide this process. There is a real energy to make change in our community so that all our children thrive.

Favorite thing about Rockford: I love the “mid-sized” city feel of this place. There’s plenty to do, but you often run into friends around town. The river, which flows by my house, is beautiful. As a transplant (10 years here), I see the good things others take for granted — the short commute, the sense of decency, the parks and organizations to join. It’s a good place.

Recent signs of progress: I see more folks taking pride in this place, and fixing what’s broken instead of just complaining about it. Keep it up.

In 2025, I hope … that we can say, with confidence, that no matter what neighborhood a child lives in, the community as a whole has aligned to help them and their family thrive.

What’s ahead? More information and results regarding the kindergarten census will be coming soon. Stay tuned on how you can be involved and help our youngest students thrive.