$295K in Investments in Early Learning

These are families who still would not be able to afford preschool, those who fall in-between being eligible for help and being able to afford it

$295K in Investments in Early Learning Provided by ECE Fund

This week, we were thrilled to announce nearly $300,000 in investments in little learners in our region.

This year, $295,000 in Early Childhood Education Fund grants are being awarded to five programs in the region. The fund aims to invest in the region’s future generations by giving more children access to high-quality early childhood education, helping more of them become readers by the end of 3rd grade, and multiplying their chances of success for their entire lives, CFA Associate Director Angie Berzonski says.

“The goals for the Early Childhood Education Initiative are to provide more access to families who do not qualify for currently existing subsidized programs; provide enhanced professional development for staff; and help to upgrade facilities, curriculum, and other resources to help programs in our area achieve high-quality designations, as indicated by state standards,” Berzonski says. “We believe—and the research indicates—that these efforts can change lives.”

Grants awarded are:

  • $10,000 to Tableland Services Inc. to replace an old playset at the Conemaugh Township Center with a new swing set and playground structure that meets all safety standards for early childhood educational settings;
  • $60,000 to Community Action Partnership of Cambria County for two facility upgrades at their largest Early Childhood Center;
  • $65,000 for The Learning Lamp to support the Southern Alleghenies ECE Shared Services Alliance, an effort that shares resources and programming among 22 facilities (not just Learning Lamp sites) by increasing staff support, increasing focus on child behavior, aligning curriculum of members with kindergarten readiness requirements, and improving operational efficiencies;
  • $70,000 to Mom’s House Inc. for professional development and efforts to retain and increase staff, which will allow the organization to increase enrollment; and
  • $90,000 to Cambria County Child Development Corp. to provide tuition assistance for families who do not qualify for subsidized programs.

The Cambria County Child Development Center, which serves families at the Morrell Neighborhood School in Johnstown’s Cambria City neighborhood, also is working toward achieving a STAR 4 designation through the state’s Keystone STARS program for identifying high-quality early childhood education.

The $90,000 grant will allow more families to be able to afford early learning and targets those whose incomes are above guidelines for receiving other financial assistance, center Executive Director Christina Baughman says.

“These are families who still would not be able to afford preschool, those who fall in-between being eligible for help and being able to afford it,” she says. “We don’t want them to fall through the cracks.”

Currently meeting all Pennsylvania’s Pre-K Counts guidelines, as well as achieving a private academic license, the center offers local preschoolers a critical opportunity to excel, the kind of advantage that the fund works to make available to more local children.

“Preschool is so important,” Baughman says. “It is a foundational year for most children and helps them to grow socially, emotionally, and academically. It provides them with a structured learning environment before they enter kindergarten. This grant award gives more children and families the opportunity for this important experience.”

Research shows that children who have access to quality early childhood education are not only more likely to attend college and lead productive, successful lives, but they are also less likely to drop out of high school, get into criminal trouble, or become teen parents, according to data compiled through The Abecedarian Project, the High/Scope Perry Preschool Study, the Chicago Longitudinal Study of Child-Parent Centers, and the Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Project.

CFA President Mike Kane says those life-changing effects and the long-term impact are the ultimate goal.

“Donors to the Early Childhood Education Fund are not just helping a child live a better life, they’re also building a better future for our community,” he says.