A Higher Degree of Early Learning

Sometimes, improving the quality of education is a matter of knowing how and where to turn for help. That was the focus of a Lunch & Learn this week sponsored by PNC and hosted by the Early Learning Action Network of the Bold Goals Coalition of Central Alabama together with United Way Success By 6, Alabama School Readiness Alliance, Childcare Resources and Alabama Public Television.

Childcare providers from across our region came to learn about and discuss the application for, and benefits of, a First Class Pre-K grant from the Office of School Readiness and the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education. The First Class Pre-K grant can provide childcare centers with extensive resources and accountability to the highest quality standards in the nation. The Early Learning Action Network of Bold Goals provides additional support from community partners to help more childcare centers become eligible and apply for First Class Pre-K grants.

Yvonne Stanley, owner and director of Joshua Learning Tree Academy, which was a recent recipient of a $150,000-First Class Pre-K grant, spoke to the group and reflected on the help she received from Success By 6 and other Bold Goals partners. “When trying to reach a goal, it’s important to have supporters,” she said. “This program helped provide budgeting classes, grant-writing assistance and workshops about what to expect from an Alabama First Class Pre-K Program.”

Once a childcare provider elects to apply for the grant, the applicant is guided every step of the way through the process by the organizations within the Early Learning Action Network. Childcare centers learn about sustainable budgeting practices and grant writing, and also receive one-on-one coaching to increase the likelihood of receiving a grant. And the more the better. The goal is to give as many children as possible access to high-quality early-learning experiences.

For more information on the First Class Pre-K grant, please visit http://children.alabama.gov/firstclass.