Ready for School recieves W.K. Kellogg Foundation Award | News
April 10, 2012, Holland, MI. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation has committed $1,957,467 over three years to Ready for School for the continuation of its work of ensuring that every child from birth enters kindergarten prepared to succeed. This is the second investment from the Foundation, with the first being a $398,894 grant awarded last year. Local donor commitment to the initiative from area businesses, individuals and foundations, robust volunteerism and successful short-term outcomes all contributed in demonstrating to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation that this community views children and families as a priority and has mobilized to improve early education.
By partnering parents and childcare providers with a strong alliance of community organizations and resources, Ready for School aims to have 75% of kindergarten students ready for school by the year 2015. Partners include civic, education, health, non-profit, corporate and faith-based organizations.
Ready for School aims to improve kindergarten readiness based on three objectives:
- Engage and inform parents about the role they play as teachers in the first years of their child’s development.
- Enhance existing programming by engaging current pre-school and daycare providers in the Ready for School movement through opportunities for professional development and access to effective researched based teaching methods and learning tools.
- Expand early learning opportunities by ensuring facility and programming space for every child and removing barriers that may discourage participation like cost and inconvenient hours of operation.
“It is scientifically proven that 90% of a child’s future learning ability is developed before they get to kindergarten,” said Pat Sosa VerDuin, Executive Director of Ready for School “From birth to the first day of school, Ready for School connects parents to the resources and services they need to be successful as their child’s first teacher.”
Based upon a common screen adopted by all area schools, this fall 62% of our children met the benchmark criteria for kindergarten readiness, up from 55% in 2010. When the initiative first began in 2008, less than half of our children were ready.
“Kindergarten readiness is not just a problem for our schools,” said Bruce Los, Ready for School Board President and Senior Vice President of Gentex Corporation. “It is a community problem which impacts our sustainability, economic prosperity and social equity. Children born today are the workforces of our future.”
Due to this investment and the investment of many others in our community, families in the Holland, Zeeland and Hamilton areas can expect increased access to consistent information on what it means to have their children ready for school. Funds and programming will be available to reduce and remove obstacles that inhibit a family from providing the early education experiences to their children. One example will be an expansion of our access to health project, Healthy Beginnings, which connects with parents through their health care providers to ensure that every child 0-5 has access to a medical home. Information and resources are provided to families at the time of their child’s birth through wellness check-ups. Additionally, an increased focus will be placed on improving the quality of early education in our community by providing support and training to our area child care and preschool providers.