“The development of the unique features of speech and fine motor function occurs almost exclusively during the period from birth until 3 years of age as a result of the abundance of neurons (brain cells) that exist at this pivotal time; accordingly, to maximize learning opportunities, it is imperative that all children receive the highest level of attention during this narrow and irreplaceable ‘Window of Opportunity.’”
– Dr. Henry Foster, Professor Emeritus and former Dean School of Medicine, Meharry Medical College And Clinical Professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology Vanderbilt University
Our Community’s Challenge
Every year too many of our children show up on the doorsteps of our schools ill-equipped to learn, unable to succeed. Why? Often, until that moment, learning and “playing well with others” have not been a priority in their lives. Sometimes they’ve never seen a book; sometimes their days have been filled with TV rather than human interaction. As a result, our children and our schools are suffering.
• Almost one-third of our young people do not graduate from high school.
• Dropouts are at risk for higher rates of incarceration, unemployment, and physical and mental health problems.
• We are investing most of our resources too late, decreasing the chances of success.
What We Propose
The Community Foundation is working to create a foundation for children’s future learning, behavior and health, particularly for children who are at risk. The Early Childhood Education Scholarship Initiative partners with Early Childhood Education centers that have achieved Three-Star Certification from the state. These centers have a proven track record of successful learning programs and strong parental involvement.
Our goal is to provide quality educational settings to children from birth until they are old enough to enter the Governor’s Pre-K program. The majority of children in the scholarship program are children of the “working poor,” a designation for families earning between $18,000 and $24,000 annually. These are families who earn too much to receive financial assistance from the state, but for whom quality care would be nearly impossible to afford.
We will also assist families where without this help, a parent would have to leave school or quit work to keep their child safe and secure. This is a key factor in reducing the cycle of poverty.
It is our pledge to every child receiving a scholarship that we will see them through until they reach the Governor’s Pre-K program at 4 years old. The continuity of high-quality early childhood education for these children will be an investment that yields untold rewards.