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Learning Network provides $540,000 grant for pre-kindergarten in Kalamazoo

Children who live in the Kalamazoo Public Schools district will soon have better access to opportunities that will have them ready for kindergarten thanks to a major grant from The Learning Network.

Kalamazoo County Ready 4s, in partnership with the Northside Committee, is receiving $542,412 for an early childhood initiative focusing on 3-year-olds and families that live in Kalamazoo's Northside and Douglas neighborhoods.

"We are confident that the work supported by this grant, with measurable impacts, will help change many lives," says Amy Slancik, community investment officer for The Learning Network at the Kalamazoo Community Foundation.

According to Tonia Smith, community advocate and co-chair of the Northside Committee, "Connecting with families from the beginning and building relationships will change families and the community. With these grant dollars, we are able to do more proactive work, instead of being reactive. I am so excited for these families; I can't stop smiling."

The Northside Committee/Kalamazoo County Ready 4s initiative will increase the number of children ready for kindergarten by providing high-quality developmental and educational opportunities. The grant will enable up to 60 3-year-olds to attend half or full-day pre-kindergarten; upgrade and equip facilities; provide transportation; and provide professional development for faculty and staff along with on-site teacher mentors. The grant also will provide additional resources for parenting programs.

Desired outcomes for the initiative include:

  • Establishing a minimum of two high-quality pre-kindergarten classrooms located in the Northside and Douglas neighboroods and achieving and maintaining high-quality standards in these classrooms;
  • Effectively implementing the adopted curriculum; and
  • Using research-based and best-practice instructional strategies in classroom management measured by fall and spring assessments.