Smart Beginnings gets $75K education grant

Smart Beginnings Shenandoah Valley, a local school-readiness initiative that works to improve the quality of early childhood care and learning in the cities of Harrisonburg, Staunton and Waynesboro, as well as in Augusta, Page, Rockingham and Shenandoah counties, has received a grant of $75,000 from the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation (VECF), a public-private partnership headquartered in Richmond, Va.

United Way of Harrisonburg-Rockingham County serves as the fiscal agent for this grant, which will impact the lives of more than 65,000 young children in three cities and four counties in the Shenandoah Valley area over the next 18 months.

The grant will be used to fund a number of high-quality school readiness programs and services such as:

  • Parent Education – Smart Beginnings Shenandoah Valley focuses its parent education efforts on equipping parents with knowledge about the social and emotional development of children, as well as positive parenting skills, nutrition, school readiness, and health.
  • Quality Early Learning – Smart Beginnings Shenandoah Valley works with private, faith-based and public child care programs and preschools to increase the quality of early education for young children. The coalition also works with community partners to coordinate professional development opportunities for early childhood educators.
  • Kindergarten Transition – Smart Beginnings Shenandoah Valley focuses on children’s successful Kindergarten entry, including regionally coordinating a common Kindergarten registration date for all 7 school systems, publishing a Kindergarten readiness Parent Resource Guide, and developing a Kindergarten readiness screening tool completed by preschool teachers and shared with Kindergarten teachers to ensure a seamless transition.

“When young children experience high-quality, enriching early learning opportunities from birth to age five, they are more likely to enter Kindergarten ready to learn and succeed,” said Alysia Davis, Coordinator of Smart Beginnings Shenandoah Valley.

“As leaders in the community, we have a responsibility to provide young children with the crucial skills that are vital for workforce success,” said Lauren Kibler, marketing director for Chick-fil-A of Harrisonburg and Chair of the Leadership Council for Smart Beginnings Shenandoah Valley. “The economic prosperity of our region depends on it!”

“With more than 85 percent of the foundation for a child’s intellect, personality and skills developing before age five, it’s imperative that the early years are filled with high-quality learning experiences so that children will start Kindergarten healthy and ready to learn,” said Thomas N. Chewning, Chairman of the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation. “By advancing school readiness, Smart Beginnings Shenandoah Valley and community partners will create a more educated workforce that is capable of competing in the global economy.”

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