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 of a high quality.

Early childhood development efforts can significantly improve the following success outcomes:

  • Academic achievement
  • Graduation rates
  • Workforce readiness
  • Job productivity
  • Community engagement

Focused early childhood education can also reduce the following challenges and risk factors:

  • Special education costs
  • Grade repetition
  • Teenage pregnancy
  • Crime rates
  • Welfare dependency
  • 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 $2 million in early childhood education initiatives in Monroe County:

Early Learning Initiatives

Monroe Smart Start Impact

  • Establishing 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 were created, increasing access to affordable, high-quality early learning for children most in need of support.
  • Increasing child care capacity at high-quality early childhood sites.
  • 132 additional seats for low-income children were created.
  • Improving quality of local early learning through Monroe Smart Start’s Quality Cohorts and professional learning communities that provide materials, mentoring, and resources to help sites achieve and maintain higher levels in Paths to QUALITY™.
  • The number of high-quality child care sites in Monroe County increased by 163% since 2012.
  • Providing funding for preschool parent liaisons at MCCSC and RBBCSC to facilitate learning through engagement activities and events for families.
  • Nearly 300 pre-K families each year are connected with resources, events, and home visits with the help of preschool parent liaisons.
  • Supporting 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.
  • Over 22,000 children and families have received age-appropriate books and developmental resources since 2016.
  • Preparing 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.
  • Monroe County 4-year-olds are eligible for state-funded, free pre-K because of the local commitment to access, quality, and professionalism of early learning providers.
  • Investing in local early childhood educators through Conscious Discipline, a professional development eCourse on social-emotional learning for adults.
  • 95 early childhood educators developed their social-emotional skills.