Early Learning Indiana Awards Strong Start Community Grants to 15 Communities
Selected communities will receive $25,000 to develop and implement plans to improve kindergarten transitions.
Early Learning Indiana today announced recipients of a statewide grant opportunity for communities interested in strengthening kindergarten transition programs and practices. The Strong Start Community initiative, made possible by Indiana’s Preschool Development Grant, supports the creation of locally driven plans to ensure more Hoosier children move effectively into the kindergarten classroom, setting the stage for success in their first year of elementary school and beyond.
A smooth transition into kindergarten creates a foundation for children to build upon throughout the rest of their education journey. Without the right supports, children struggle to manage new expectations and the uncertainty of a new environment. Intentional programs that encourage family engagement and strengthen the connection between pre-K and K-12 are linked to academic gains, with the greatest gains made by children who experience social and economic risks.
Successful submissions for the Strong Start Community Grant included letters of intent from a lead organization, such as a K-12 district or board, United Way or community foundation. To demonstrate cross-sector participation and partnership, lead organizations were required to submit at least two letters of support from an elected official, early learning provider, local early learning coalition leader, chamber or local economic development group leader, community or business partner, or families.
A total of 15 Indiana communities will be awarded $25,000 through the Strong Start Community Grant. Lead organizations for the selected communities are:
• Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County (Bloomington)
• Community Foundation of Muncie & Delaware County, Inc. (Muncie)
• Community Foundation of Wabash County (North Manchester)
• East Washington School Corporation (New Pekin)
• Manchester Community Schools (North Manchester)
• Montgomery County Community Foundation (Crawfordsville)
• MSD of Pike Township (Indianapolis)
• Southwest Dubois County School Corporation (Huntingburg)
• United Way of Elkhart and LaGrange Counties (Elkhart)
• United Way of LaPorte County (LaPorte)
• United Way of St. Joseph County (South Bend)
• United Way of the Wabash Valley, Inc. (Terre Haute)
• United Way of Wells County (Bluffton)
• Wayne County Foundation (Richmond)
• Zionsville Community Schools (Zionsville)
Selected communities have committed to developing and implementing kindergarten transition plans using specific criteria. That criteria, informed by national best practices and local innovation identified through the Strong Start for Kindergarten Prize competition, includes:
• Key stakeholder representation and public and private partnerships forged to support community participation
• Joint participation by early childhood education and K-12 stakeholders
• Engagement of early learning and kindergarten teachers through exposure opportunities and joint professional development
• Activities that engage families in the kindergarten transition planning process
• Supports for at-risk or vulnerable populations with a specific outcome goal
• Data use to set current level of kindergarten readiness and establish plan goals
“An increasing body of evidence suggests that effective kindergarten transitions can reduce academic fadeout, improve outcomes, encourage family involvement and allow children to navigate a significant period of adjustment,” said Early Learning Indiana CEO and President Maureen Weber. “By bringing all of the right stakeholders to the table and creating plans that leverage high-impact practices, communities can signal a genuine commitment to giving Hoosier children the best start possible in their elementary education journey, paving the way for future success.”
Indiana’s Preschool Development Grant, awarded to Indiana FSSA’s Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning in January 2019, supports a formal evaluation of the state’s birth-to-5 early childhood education programs and strategic planning to strengthen them. The Strong Start Community Grant builds upon these efforts and is powered by Early Learning Indiana.
For more information on the Strong Start Community Grant, visit solutions.earlylearningin.org/strong-start-community-grant.
Early Learning Indiana is a leading voice in the conversation about the future of early learning and its role in helping to solve K-12 and workforce challenges. Today, Early Learning Indiana operates nine high-quality Day Early Learning centers, a network of premier community-based lab schools used to advance the science of early learning, train the next generation of teachers and leaders, and instill essential skills in the children we serve. Through regional and statewide programs, the organization enables early learning providers to build capacity, transform operations, and improve learning outcomes. More information is available at EarlyLearningIndiana.org.