Foundation Receives National and Statewide Funding
Charles Stewart Mott Foundation Renews Grant to Support Promise Scholarships
The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation has awarded a renewal grant for the Community Foundation Promise Early-Award Scholarship Program, which recently completed its second academic school year. Launched in 2016, the program, which awards scholarships to students in grades four through eight for hard work in school, college-going activities, and regular savings, has awarded to date over $180,000 into the 1,103 participating students’ scholarship accounts. Wabash County students are busy not only earning money for future post-secondary education expenses, but also forming a college-going identity that will shape the way they see their futures.
The original grant from the Mott Foundation allowed the Community Foundation to pilot this innovative program for two years, with a possible renewal grant dependent upon the results of the scholarship program. The success achieved through the first two years has been incredibly encouraging and impressive; our students are beginning to think about their futures and earning scholarships to be used for college or career training expenses.
With the funds receipted from the renewal grant, the Community Foundation has developed a 3-year plan that will support further program design and innovations to increase enrollment, promote greater participation in academic and savings rewards, and further assist students in building an identity that is education dependent. Students who participate in the Promise Early-Award Scholarship program have the potential to earn $830. Having those assets is proven to make children more likely to pursue post-secondary education or training.
Additionally, the Foundation will implement school and community initiatives and partnerships that empower students with strategies to overcome obstacles. By continuing to learn, study, and evaluate, the Foundation will discover the most effective tactics and incentives in building assets, influencing aspirations, and creating identity.
The Wabash community has embraced the Early-Award scholarship model and contributed to its success through partnerships, fundraising, and overall student support. We look forward to continuing the program throughout the next three years of the grant, and hopefully beyond.
Early Education Capacity Building Grant to Support Four Local Programs
The Wabash County Early Childhood Education Coalition, a multi-sector group formed by the Community Foundation with the help of the United Fund and Transform Consulting Group, recently received an early education capacity building grant from the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration.
Under the Community Foundation umbrella, Manchester Elementary School Pre-K, Wabash City Schools Forest Pre-K, Peace Patch Preschool (North Manchester), and the Presbyterian School Pre-K (Wabash) will receive funding to increase capacity, increase accessibility, improve quality, and improve affordability.
Like many rural communities, Wabash County has limited options for early childhood education. While almost 1,500 young children (age 0-5) need care while their parents work, only 396 (27%) are enrolled in known childcare programs. Of the 36 known early childhood education programs, fewer than half offer full-day programs and therefore the majority do not support the working family population. Additionally, only 9 of the known programs participate in Paths to QUALITY, the rating system used to assess the quality of care and education of a program.
Paths to QUALITY (PTQ) is a Quality Rating and Improvement System that gives families an easy to recognize symbol that makes the difficult decision of choosing a program easier. It standardizes the definition of quality so parents and providers know what they’re looking for. Quality is defined in terms of safety, educational environments, curriculum, and accreditation. Additionally, PTQ helps childcare professionals obtain necessary professional development. Childcare programs are classified as levels 1-4, where each level builds on the foundation of the previous one. Level 1 requires meeting basic criteria for Health and Safety. Level 2 includes Learning Environments, Level 3 requires a Planned Curriculum, and National Accreditation happens at the highest level (Level 4).
Wabash County currently has only five programs rated high quality at Levels 3 and 4, which serve a mere 8% of our young children. With the newly awarded Capacity Building Grant, the Community Foundation and the Wabash County Early Childhood Coalition will work to double the number of high quality early education programs and add 236 high quality seats in the county.
The grant funding will support the four identified early childhood education programs to meet PTQ standards. It will also strengthen education and career pathways for individuals currently employed in the field as well as attract new educators. In order for these programs to be classified as high quality, they will require a Level 3 or 4 rating on PTQ. Upgrades to each program, including classroom materials, teacher credentials, facility improvements, and formal curriculum, will be subsidized through the capacity building grant and are expected to take up to one year to complete.
Additionally, this grant required recipients to raise $50,000 locally. The Foundation supplied half of the match, and the remaining funds were received from Heartland Career Center, Wabash County United Fund, Ford Meter Box Foundation, City of Wabash, Parkview Wabash Hospital, and an individual donor. The community’s support and investment in the care and education of our young children is vital to Wabash County’s future and is greatly appreciated.