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Grant will help Smart Beginnings with ‘Getting Ready’

Smart Beginnings Shenandoah Valley, a local collaborative coalition working to improve the quality of early education and care in the cities of Harrisonburg, Staunton and Waynesboro, as well as in Augusta, Page, Rockingham and Shenandoah counties, has received a significant grant of $125,000 from the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation, a public-private partnership headquartered in Richmond.

Funds for this “Getting Ready” grant will support the coalition’s ongoing efforts to build partnerships with business and community leaders and to increase public engagement about the importance of providing young children, ages 0-5, with quality early childhood experiences so they will be successful in school and in life. The grant also will be used to fund several school readiness activities such as parenting classes and programs for families through the Center for Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning.

Another focus of the VECF grant funds will be to increase the number of preschools and childcare centers participating in the Virginia Star Quality Initiative. This is a statewide system designed to help families make more informed choices when considering where to send their young children, for childcare and preschool. The VECF grant funding gives Smart Beginnings Shenandoah Valley the ability to provide these programs with intensive training and mentoring support designed to develop higher-quality learning experiences for young children.

“This tremendous investment by the VECF will be further increased through matching funds from businesses and early childhood stakeholders in our region,” said Stacie Jackson, program coordinator of Smart Beginnings Shenandoah Valley. “It’s exciting to collaborate with such a diverse cross-section of business and community leaders to give our future workforce the solid foundation that they deserve.”

United Way of Harrisonburg-Rockingham County will serve as the fiscal agent for this grant, which will impact the lives of approximately over 21,000 young children in three cities and four counties in the Shenandoah Valley area over the next two years.

“Smart Beginnings Shenandoah Valley has been very successful in promoting community engagement and building broad-based partnerships to support early childhood development programs and services,” said Caroline Smith, program officer for the VECF. “The coalition has done a remarkable job with leveraging and strengthening early childhood systems that will launch young children on a path to lifelong success, as well as transform the economic vitality of the Shenandoah Valley region.”

Edited by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at