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Investing in Early Learners Through a New Scholarship Fund

A search for a new volunteer opportunity paved the way for a scholarship fund for early learners, thanks to the work of one Day Nursery Auxiliary member.

Peggy Reising has been a member of the Auxiliary for two years, joining at a neighbor’s suggestion while seeking new opportunities to volunteer post-COVID. The Day Nursery Auxiliary is a group of more than 150 members who support Early Learning Indiana’s programs by raising money, providing volunteer services and serving as community ambassadors for high-quality early learning.

A strong proponent of the value of lifelong education, Peggy saw a natural fit between Early Learning Indiana’s philosophy and her own. “Their mission is my mission. I’ve been involved in education my entire life, from playing teacher as a child to actually becoming one as a high school math teacher. Education is the foundation of life, and early education is so important for a child’s success later on,” she said, pointing to studies that show access to high-quality early learning leads to greater academic and lifelong success, reduced rates of incarceration, higher graduation rates, less grade repetition and greater social-emotional wellbeing.

Peggy was instrumental in creating the Day Nursery Auxiliary Scholarship Fund, in collaboration with Early Learning Indiana. The Auxiliary fund is unique in that participants can donate stock or make a qualified contribution from an individual retirement account (IRA), in addition to donating in traditional ways. These options allow a greater range of flexibility and can provide tax incentives to the donor.

The idea for the fund began in 2023, when Peggy wanted to give a $10,000 gift of stock to Early Learning Indiana to be used to assist families with tuition, but realized there wasn’t a scholarship fund established that would allow her to do so. She took her idea to ELI’s development and leadership teams and was pleased to find that all were enthusiastically on board. “I wanted to find a way to directly impact families, and at the same time, this type of donation can have significant tax benefits to the donor,” Peggy said. Tax regulations and investment options can sound intimidating, so Peggy hopes that by sharing her story and promoting the Auxiliary scholarship fund, she can encourage more donors to think about non-traditional contributions.

While the fund is named after the Auxiliary, Peggy emphasizes that anyone can donate. “Any amount is appreciated, and it’s a great way to donate in honor or in memory of a loved one. All funds go directly to families for tuition support.”

Peggy was a longtime middle and high school math teacher in Indianapolis and continued to volunteer as a tutor in her granddaughter’s school after retirement. She loves the hands-on opportunities to engage in classrooms offered through the Auxiliary and spends most of her volunteer time at a Day Early Learning center working with the 3- to 5-year-olds. “During choice time, I’ll join a group of kids and incorporate some educational pieces into their play, talking about shapes, colors and numbers. Mostly, we try to help the teachers however we can!”

Outside of the Auxiliary, Peggy serves on the Board of Directors for the Holliday Park Foundation and chats excitedly about the new nature playground slated for the park. She enjoys gardening and spending time with her two children and three grandchildren.

Peggy hopes the fund continues to grow as more women, in particular, become savvier about investment options, creating a win-win situation for donor and recipient. And while the tax benefits are an added bonus, she says it’s ultimately the investment in early learners that will pay off the most.

“It’s simple — high-quality child care centers cost money, and teachers can’t teach and children can’t learn without support,” Peggy said. “If we can subsidize tuition for families so they can access these programs, we can help give kids the foundation of a great education.”

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