Coalition of agencies join forces to give more families access to free, high-quality early childhood education
BOSTON – Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Boston Public Schools (BPS) Superintendent Carol R. Johnson today announced a major step forward in the effort to vastly expand early education opportunities for the city’s youngest students. Working in close collaboration with local partners, the City of Boston and BPS granted funds to seven community based organizations to create 10 new K1 classrooms. Later this month, Thrive in 5, a partnership between the City of Boston and the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and the Merrimack Valley, will announce four additional K1 classrooms to be created under the program’s direction.
“Providing our children a good and early start is so important to their success through high school and college,” Mayor Menino said. “We know this investment will result in high quality education for more of our youngest students, thanks to the work of our trusted community partners at the United Way.”
Ten city organizations submitted proposals to BPS, and seven were selected for the grant funding, made possible by BPS, The Barr Foundation, and The United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. Priority was given to organizations located in the Circle of Promise and East Boston, for the grants that range from $15,000 to $45,000, based on the organizations needs. The programs selected were Catholic Charities: Nazareth Child Care Center (Jamaica Plain); Dorchester Boy and Girls Club; East Boston YMCA; Ellis Memorial Early Education Center (South End); IBA: Escuelita Boriken (South End), N.I.C.E Inc. (Roxbury); and Wesley Child Care Center (Dorchester).
Through this collaboration the organizations will receive professional development training from BPS early education staff, along with professional coaching and the use of BPS curriculum.
BPS early education classes have been recognized nationally. Currently, 17 schools have received accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) which is widely seen as the mark of quality in early childhood education.
“Our goal is to provide every child in our city with the resources they need to succeed,” said Superintendent Johnson. “By making more early education opportunities available to the families of Boston, we are making great strides in achieving our goal.”
“This expansion of K1 classrooms in community-based programs will increase access for families in areas of Boston where it is most needed,” said Jane Tewksbury, Executive Director of Thrive in 5. “Combined with a comprehensive evaluation component, it will provide a framework for pre-school classrooms that will make a measurable difference in school readiness and improve the long term academic success for our most at-risk children.”
This expansion will eventually serve up to 200 students, mostly four-year olds. This expansion aligns with Mayor Menino’s goal of doubling the number of seats available to four-year olds who live in the Circle of Promise by 2016 as announced in his 2011 State of the City Address.
“This initiative is the product of a strong collaborative effort between United Way and the City of Boston and signals the value of public-private partnerships to address community needs,” said Michael Durkin, President of United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. “It is thanks to the shared commitment of our city leaders and non-profit partners that Thrive in 5 will be able to provide more children with full-day services to meet the needs of working families.”
The Boston Public Schools, the birthplace of public education in the United States, serves nearly 57,000 pre-kindergarten through grade 12 students in 128 schools.