History

In 2007, parents, educators, nonprofits, health professionals, community, and business leaders came together to focus on the first five years of life and the importance of quality early learning opportunities in our community. This coalition gathered input from local stakeholders about area needs and opportunities and studied successful models from other communities.

We learned that this community values early learning but lacks adequate resources to ensure early learning is available and that experiences are high quality.

Early childhood development efforts can significantly affect success in school, graduation rates, workforce readiness, job productivity and community engagement. Focused early childhood education can also reduce special education costs, grade repetition, teenage pregnancy, crime rates, welfare dependency, and job training costs.

The Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County believes that every child deserves a smart start and that early childhood education is a wise investment of the community’s resources.

Monroe Smart Start began with a mission to create a community where children are ready for school and ready for life.

Since 2009, the Community Foundation has invested $1.4 million in early childhood education initiatives in Monroe County:

Early Learning Initiatives Monroe Smart Start Impact
  • Provided funding to establish six tuition-free preschool classrooms in MCCSC Title I elementary schools and an additional classroom at the MCCSC Early Learning Center.
  • 140 additional tuition-free early childhood education seats created, increasing access to affordable, high-quality early learning for children most in need of support.
  • Funding for increased child care capacity at high-quality nonprofit early childhood sites.
  • 132 additional seats for low-income children.
  • Improving quality of local early learning by increasing numbers of sites participating in Monroe Smart Start Quality Cohorts and professional learning communities that provide materials, mentoring, and resources to help sites achieve and maintain higher levels in Paths to QUALITY™.
  • A 163% increase in the number of high-quality child care sites in Monroe County since 2012.
  • Funding for preschool parent liaisons at MCCSC and RBBCSC to facilitate learning through engagement activities and events for families.
  • Preschool parent liaisons connect nearly 300 pre-K families yearly with resources, events, and home visits.
  • Supports Let’s Read, a literacy outreach program that provides children and families with free books, developmental guide sheets, and age-specific resources during wellness exams.
  • 8,000 children and families receive literacy materials and developmental resources through Let’s Read each year.
  • Prepared Monroe County for selection as an On My Way Pre-K county, Indiana’s first state-funded pre-K program for low-income families. Also serves as On My Way Pre-K county lead.
  • Because of local commitment to access, quality, and professionalism of early learning providers, up to 200 4-year-olds are eligible for 53 weeks of state-funded, free pre-K.
  • Monroe Smart Start was a sponsor, served on the lead planning team, coordinated the statewide conference, and welcomed 400 attendees from 60 counties to our community.