Governor McAuliffe recently announced that the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation (VECF), in consultation with the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), will award five grants to local communities that have proposed innovative approaches to ensure all children eligible for the Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI) are able to access programs. The funding for the grants was included in the 2016-2018 biennial budget that was introduced by the Governor and approved by the General Assembly.
“If Virginia is going to lead in the global economy of the future, we must prepare our students to succeed as early as possible,” said Governor McAuliffe. “These grants will support communities across the Commonwealth as they develop innovative local solutions to increase access to the Virginia Preschool Initiative for at-risk children. By investing in quality preschool education for these children, we can create new opportunity for families in every corner of the Commonwealth and continue our efforts to build a new Virginia economy.”
This marks the second group of statewide school readiness proposals that have received grant funding for mixed-delivery systems, which include services offered through a variety of programs and providers including non-profits, community organizations, public schools, and Head Start. The first cohort of mixed-delivery grantees was announced in August 2016. VECF will award approximately $250,000 each to Fairfax County Office for Children, Fauquier County Public Schools, Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond, Smart Beginnings Southwest Virginia, and Total Action for Progress.
“We are excited to support and learn from another cohort of Virginia communities as they challenge us to think differently and collaboratively about how we prepare young children for school and life success,” said Secretary of Education Dietra Trent.“These pilots will continue to inform other statewide efforts, like the School Readiness Committee, to ensure all Virginia children start school healthy and ready to learn.”
“Each of the winning applications is built on deep and broad community collaboration with participation from school divisions, human service agencies, institutions of higher education, private organizations and philanthropy,” said Kathy Glazer, VECF President. “We applaud the entrepreneurial thinking that addresses unique local challenges and identifies barriers that can prevent access to high-quality preschool.” The proposals receiving mixed-delivery preschool grants in 2017 are as follows:
Total Action for Progress: This grantee will coordinate a collaboration of five strong community partners that will work together to provide two new preschool classrooms at the only licensed child care center in rural Craig County, which is not currently served by VPI. The new classrooms will give parents a continuum of quality care and education from birth though kindergarten entry.
-Submitted by Charlotte Gomer