Early Childhood

PNC pledges $500,000 for preschool if Ballard’s plan prevails

PHOTO: Hayleigh Colombo
Student work outside of a preschool classroom at IPS School 102.

PNC Bank in Indiana is joining in with a half-million dollar pledge of financial support for preschool if only Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard can find a way to get his $50 million plan approved.

The plan, announced in July, would create a public-private tuition support program for low income families to send their children to highly-rated preschools. But on Monday, City-County Council Democrats shelved the plan over objections to Ballard’s idea to eliminate the Homestead Tax Credit program to raise the money fund it. City officials have said they will keep working to try to find a compromise.

Lilly executives have vowed to work with other businesses to raise $10 million over the next three years for the preschool plan starting with a $2 million commitment from their foundation, but that investment is contingent on Ballard, a Republican, and a Democrat-controlled council working out a deal on preschool.

So is the PNC money.

“PNC’s funding support will be contingent upon the willingness of Mayor Greg Ballard and City-County Council to act now on a plan to expand access to high-quality preschools in Indianapolis,” Connie Bond Stuart, PNC regional president of Central and Southern Indiana, speaking on behalf of the PNC Foundation, said in a statement. ” The city has a viable opportunity to provide life-changing help to hundreds, eventually thousands of vulnerable children.”

Stuart said Ballard’s plan is an opportunity to use early learning to address the root cause of many problems in Indianapolis.

“This is a time of great opportunity and promise for early childhood education in Indianapolis,” she said. “Research shows that 90 percent of a child’s brain is formed by the time he or she is 5 years old, and we recognize that access to quality early childhood education has the potential to positively influence the trajectory of the lives of young children.”

In 2004, PNC Bank created the $350 million Grow Up Great initiative aimed at better preparing young children to begin school.

To see Chalkbeat’s continuing coverage of Ballard’s preschool plan, check out our story roundup.

Early investment

Foundations put $50 million behind effort to improve lives of young Detroit children

PHOTO: Erin Einhorn
The heads of the Kresge and W.K. Kellogg foundations, Rip Rapson and La June Montgomery announce a $50 million investment to support the new Hope Starts Here framework.

The two major foundations behind the creation of a ten-year plan to improve the lives of Detroit’s youngest children are putting up $50 million to help put the plan into action.

As they unveiled the new Hope Starts Here framework Friday morning, the Kellogg and Kresge foundations announced they would each spend $25 million in the next few years to improve the health and education of children aged birth to 8 in the city.

The money will go toward upgrading early childhood education centers, including a new Kresge-funded comprehensive child care center that the foundation says it hopes to break ground on next year at a location that has not yet been identified.

Other foundation dollars will go toward a just-launched centralized data system that will keep track of a range of statistics on the health and welfare of young children, and more training and support for early childhood educators.

The announcement at Detroit’s Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History drew dozens of parents, educators and community leaders. Among them was Detroit Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti who said one of the major impediments to improving conditions for young children has been divisions between the various government and nonprofit entities that run schools, daycares and health facilities for young kids.

Vitti said the district would do its part to “to break down the walls of territorialism that has prevented this work from happening” in the past.

Watch the video of of the announcement here.

Detroit's future

In a city where 60 percent of young children live in poverty, a ten-year plan aims to improve conditions for kids

PHOTO: Erin Einhorn/Chalkbeat

A coalition of community groups led by two major foundations has a plan to change the fortunes of Detroit’s youngest citizens.

The Hope Starts Here early childhood partnership is a ten-year effort to tackle a list of bleak statistics about young children in Detroit:

  • More than 60% of Detroit’s children 0-5 live in poverty — more than in any of the country’s 50 largest cities;
  • 13% of Detroit babies are born too early, compared to nine percent nationally;
  • 13% of Detroit babies are born too small, compared to eight percent nationally;
  • Detroit has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the country;
  • Nearly 30,000 of eligible young Detroiters have no access to high-quality early learning or child care options.
  • That translates to learning problems later on, including the 86.5% of Detroit third graders who aren’t reading at grade level.

Hope Starts Here spells out a plan to change that. While it doesn’t identify specific new funding sources or propose a dramatic restructuring of current programs, the effort led by the Kresge Foundation and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, names six “imperatives” to improving children’s lives.

Among them: Promoting the health, development and wellbeing of Detroit children; supporting their parents and caregivers; increasing the overall quality of early childhood programs and improving coordination between organizations that work with young kids. The framework calls for more funding to support these efforts through the combined investments of governments, philanthropic organizations and corporations.

Read the full framework here: