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Early Learning Indiana Announces First-Ever Family Engagement Award Winners

$72,500 awarded to 14 early education programs across the state

Recognizing early childhood programs for their innovative efforts to engage families of young children, Early Learning Indiana announced today that 14 programs across the state are winners in its first-ever Family Engagement Prize competition.

The new prize competition drew 145 applicants for the seven awards totaling $72,500.

“Families are children’s first and most important teachers,” said Ted Maple, President and CEO of Early Learning Indiana. “We are thrilled to recognize these 14 programs who rightly champion families and activate them as essential partners in early learning.”

The application process included programs undertaking a self-assessment of their family engagement practices and submitting a portfolio that illustrates their efforts. From holding art fairs to developing an ongoing family emergency fund, applicants displayed a deep level of commitment and care for families. Following a review process, prize winners included:

Grand Prize Winner, $25,000

Walnut Hill Early Childhood Center in Goshen, Indiana
Walnut Hill Early Childhood Center integrates family engagement into their core values and demonstrates that commitment with a range of program components, including an emergency fund to support families facing significant challenges and take-home bags with activities and books.

Early Childhood Center Winners, $5,000

The Preschool Program at St. Mary’s Child Center MLK in Indianapolis, Indiana
Apple Tree Child Development Center YMCA in Muncie, Indiana

Head Start Winners, $5,000

Bona Vista Early Head Start in Kokomo, Indiana
Child Care Consortium, Inc., Head Start of LaPorte County in Michigan City, Indiana

Public Preschool Winner, $5,000

School City of East Chicago Pre K Programs in East Chicago, Indiana
Monroe County Community School Corporation in Bloomington, Indiana

Ministry Winners, $5,000

Montessori Garden Academy in Indianapolis, Indiana
Cradles of Clay County in Brazil, Indiana

Spanish-language Program Winners, $2,500

El Campito Child Development Center in South Bend, Indiana
ABC Star Education in South Bend, Indiana

Family Child Care Winners, $2,500

Helping Hands Daycare in Anderson, Indiana
Kids Imagination Discover Station Preschool Greenwood, Indiana
Russell Family Childcare in Kokomo, Indiana

Recipients report that they intend to use their prize funds to support a range of activities. Several are focusing on adding educational materials such as books, puzzles and CDs that families can use beyond the school day. Additionally, some winners plan to add evidence-based family curriculum and community engagement efforts to their programs.

This prize competition was made possible by a 2014 grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc., which allows Early Learning Indiana’s Partnerships for Early Learners program to increase access and quality of early learning opportunities throughout the state. Advancing family engagement is a core strategy of those efforts.

In addition to this competition, Early Learning Indiana recently launched the Bloom Bright text service, sponsored by PNC Bank. Through Bloom Bright, families can sign up for free weekly ideas for making family time educational for children from birth to five years old at or by texting “BLOOM” to 95577.

Media Contact: Kirsten Eamon-Shine, 317.610.7159,

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