Funding to increase capacity of high-quality early childhood education in Monroe County
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County (CFBMC) is a recipient of two early childhood education capacity-building grants: $215,858.40 from the Indiana Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning (OECOSL) and $32,000 from Early Learning Indiana.
“For the last decade, the Community Foundation has been working closely with our local partners to improve the quality and accessibility of early learning experiences through our Monroe Smart Start Initiative,” said Community Foundation President and CEO Tina Peterson. “We are incredibly grateful to have seen, over the last several years, increased state support for early learning in Monroe County as well. This latest investment in our community by OECOSOL and Early Learning Indiana will expand local capacity to serve those children who need it most, and for that, we are incredibly grateful.”
The $215,858.40 grant from the Indiana Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning (OECOSL) will be used to help early childhood sites serve more pre-K children in Monroe County and increase the quality of early education opportunities. OECOSL is a division of the Indiana Family & Social Services Administration. CFBMC was one of 12 applicants receiving more than $1.4 million in grants. The funding for the grants was appropriated in 2017 via House Enrolled Act 1004, which Governor Eric J. Holcomb signed into law as part of his 2017 Next Level Agenda. See the December 19 announcement and full list of grant recipients at: https://www.in.gov/fssa/files/FINAL_Capacity_Bldg_PR-Dec.pdf.
The Community Foundation will use the grant funds to support the following early childhood education programs in Monroe County:
- Bloomington Center for Global Children,
- Covenant Christian Early Learning Place, Discovery Train,
- Edgewood Early Childhood Center,
- Penny Lane West, and
- SCCAP Head Start First United
These local early childhood programs will use the grant funding for:
- Training and professional development of teaching staff and personnel
- Classroom materials that demonstrate increased outcomes for children
- Evidence-based curriculum and instructional materials including professional development for teaching staff to utilize the curriculum
“Covenant Christian Early Learning Place is incredibly grateful for the opportunity this grant gives our children, and we are so excited to see how this opportunity will bless our child care facility,” said Director of the Covenant Christian Early Learning Place Shelly Hunt. “We believe this grant will allow us to better help the children of our great community.”
The OECOSL capacity building grants will also allow these Monroe County early education programs to improve quality programming, helping them to reach or maintain level 3 or 4 in Paths to QUALITY™. Paths to QUALITY™ is Indiana’s voluntary, statewide rating system for early care and education programs. It is a resource to help families make informed decisions and to help early care and education providers improve the quality of their programs. As programs advance levels from 1 to 4, providers demonstrate significant quality improvements that support health and safety, learning environments, planned curriculum, and national accreditation. More information about Paths to QUALITYTM can be foundat: https://www.in.gov/fssa/2554.htm.
“High-quality early childhood education provides a solid foundation for success in school and in life,” said Monroe Smart Start Coordinator Jennifer Myers. “During the first five years of life, a child’s brain develops at a faster pace than during any other time. It is essential that children have a nurturing environment to safely explore, play, and learn. Using developmentally appropriate practice, high-quality programs provide a foundation for school readiness. At each age, early childhood educators provide materials and learning experiences to support a child’s physical, social-emotional, cognitive, and language development.”
Grant funding in Monroe County will also support classroom assessments and professional development facilitated by Indiana University’s Early Childhood Center. A portion of the funding will support community and family engagement opportunities and marketing efforts.
The $32,000 grant from Early Learning Indiana will support construction costs associated with adding classrooms to serve 24 more children at the Covenant Christian Early Learning Place. CFBMC was one of seven applicants receiving nearly $329,000 in grants from Early Learning Indiana. These grants were made in conjunction with capacity-building grants released by OECOSL in December. Early Learning Indiana has awarded more than $2.5 million in grants to create 1,800 new high-quality seats throughout the state. Grants like these are made possible thanks to the generous support of the Lilly Endowment and its $20 million in support of Early Learning Indiana’s efforts.
See the January Early Learning Indiana announcement and full list of grant recipients at: https://earlylearningin.org/early-learning-indiana-awards-329k-in-grants-to-expand-eight-early-learning-programs/
In July 2017, Monroe County was also selected by OECOSL as one of 20 counties eligible to participate in On My Way Pre-K, Indiana’s first state-funded prekindergarten grant program. This program makes high-quality prekindergarten available for free to 4-year-olds from low-income families. Monroe Smart Start is serving as project lead to coordinate and implement On My Way Pre-K in Monroe County in collaboration with OECOSL and Chances and Services for Youth (CASY), Monroe County’s child care resource and referral agency.
About Monroe Smart Start:
Since 2013, the Community Foundation has invested more than $1.6 million in early childhood education initiatives. Monroe Smart Start, a leadership initiative of the Community Foundation, works on behalf of our community’s youngest learners, helping to ensure children are ready for school and ready for life. Monroe Smart Start promotes early childhood education by increasing access to high-quality early learning experiences, professional development for educators, family engagement and community partnerships, early learning advocacy, and On My Way Pre-K enrollment support.
About Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County:
Created by individuals, families, and businesses who share a passion for Monroe County and a vision for its future, the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County has granted $30 million to more than 400 local nonprofit organizations since its incorporation in 1990. With a growing $32 million endowment, the Foundation makes a difference by connecting caring people, important causes and community resources. More information can be found at www.cfbmc.org.