Blank Family Foundation Awards $700,000 in Grants for Early Childhood Development

Print This Post

Foundation invests $75,000 in GaFCP to expand cohorts addressing early childhood education

The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation has awarded grants totaling $700,000 to four organizations working to give every child in Georgia a strong start.

Through its Better Beginnings program, which seeks to provide high-quality learning opportunities and a healthy start for every Georgia child from birth through age 5, the foundation is providing new grants to Georgia’s Quality Rating and Improvement System, Georgia Family Connection Partnership, Reach Out and Read Georgia, and Jumpstart.

Together with previous Better Beginnings grants to GEEARS and Prevent Child Abuse Georgia, the Blank Family Foundation investments are contributing to the improved well-being of thousands of children across the state.

“We know that giving every child a strong, healthy start pays off in a big way,” said Penelope McPhee, president of the Blank Family Foundation. “Children who have access to high-quality early learning and healthy environments demonstrate lifelong benefits, performing better at home, in school, in their jobs and in their communities.”

The new Better Beginnings investments include a three-year, $500,000 grant to Quality Rated for bonuses and professional incentives for staff and executive directors of at least 330 early-learning centers earning 3-star ratings as part of Georgia’s Quality Rated campaign.

Georgia’s Department of Early Care and Learning is the lead public agency for Quality Rated, a voluntary assessment and ratings system through which early-learning centers earn 1-star, 2-star, and 3-star ratings. Quality Rated publishes the reviews to help parents choose the best center for their children.

As of November 2015, more than 2,400 of the state’s 5,000 licensed early-learning centers had joined Quality Rated. Over the next three years, Quality Rated seeks to have 100 percent of Georgia’s registered and licensed centers participating in the ratings program.

Through November, there were 278 centers rated 1-star, 401 rated 2-star, and 165 rated 3-star. Other centers in the Quality Rated system were going through the assessment process.

Centers that join Quality Rated gain access to a variety of resources and support services, including training, technical assistance, professional development and financial incentives designed to improved learning environments. With the Better Beginnings grant, Quality Rated will fund bonuses for staff and directors of early-learning centers that achieve a 3-star rating, which is the highest level in Georgia. The grant will also fund mini-grants that 3-star centers use to enhance a specific area of their care, such as time children spend in outdoor play or availability of nutritious snacks.

The new Better Beginnings investments also include:

Georgia Family Connection Partnership
$75,000 over three years to expand number of Georgia counties participating in the Georgia Family Connection Partnership early childhood education network.

Georgia Family Connection Partnership (GaFCP) supports Collaborative networks in each of Georgia’s 159 counties, coordinating local and state efforts to ensure that all children are healthy, ready to start school, and do well when they get there. With the Better Beginnings grant, GaFCP will expand its early childhood education network from nine to 12 counties, using a peer networking model to accelerate innovation across the cohort members. In turn, these counties function as leaders in promoting innovation across the partnership’s statewide network.

Through its statewide network, GaFCP is also supporting local conversations about early childhood in communities across Georgia, providing copies of the documentary film series, The Raising of America, to local groups interested in hosting events.

“We’re excited to be able to expand our work in counties across the state to link child and family health factors, like obesity and healthy food access, to school readiness and success,” said Rebekah Hudgins, GaFCP cohort research and evaluation manager. “This investment from the Blank Foundation, allows counties to look beyond a single thread and recognize the weave of policies, services, and infrastructure necessary to improve child health and education.”

Reach Out and Read Georgia
$100,000 over three years for operating support of Reach Out and Reach Georgia and program expansion to reach 10,000 new families in Metro Atlanta.

Reach Out and Read Georgia will sustain and expand programming that currently serves more than 80,000 children in Georgia. Primary care providers at the medical clinics that participate in the program promote healthy brain development, parent engagement, healthy routines, literacy and school readiness in exam rooms by integrating children’s books and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud into well-child visits. Healthy routines lead to healthier children. At every well visit (two per year) children are given a new book to build their home library.

“Reach Out and Read leverages the existing healthcare infrastructure to impart critical messages about literacy early and often in a child’s most formative years” said Amy Erickson, executive director for Reach Out and Read Georgia. “Our medical providers know that the most important thing parents can do to prepare their children to succeed in school and beyond is to read aloud to them every day. We are beyond honored to continue to have the support of this incredibly generous foundation and applaud their ongoing commitment to children in need across the state.”

$25,000 for operating support of Jumpstart’s early education program that engages about 150 Atlanta college students to help more than 400 Atlanta children develop language skills.

Jumpstart recruits and trains college students and community volunteers to work with preschool children in low-income neighborhoods. Through a tested curriculum, these children develop the language and literacy skills they need to be ready for school, setting them on a path to close the achievement gap before it is too late. Since its founding, Jumpstart has trained more than 20,000 college students and community volunteers, known as Corps members, to deliver its program to more than 90,000 preschool children nationwide.

About The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation
Formed in 1995, The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation promotes innovative solutions to transform the lives of youth and their families, seeking results that move communities beyond what seems possible today. The Foundation invests in early childhood development, education, green space and the arts, and leads giving programs for each of the Blank Family of Businesses, including the Atlanta Falcons, PGA TOUR Superstore, Mountain Sky Guest Ranch and MLS Atlanta. Mr. Blank, chairman of the foundation, co-founded The Home Depot, the world’s largest home improvement retailer, in 1978 and retired from the company as co-chairman in 2001. Through the foundation and his family’s personal giving, Mr. Blank has granted nearly $300 million to various charitable organizations.

Follow The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation on Twitter at @blankfoundation.

Bill Valladares
GaFCP Communications Director

Follow us on Twitter: @gafcpnews