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Rockford's Head Start receives $75,000 from PNC Foundation

Monday, April 04, 2011  
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By Cathy Bayer
Posted Apr 04, 2011 @ 09:21 PM
Last update Apr 07, 2011 @ 01:57 PM

More than 500 youngsters in the city’s Head Start program will have opportunities to attend museums and learn music, science and history lessons thanks to a $75,000 grant from PNC Foundation.

Officials from PNC Bank announced details of the grant today. It’s part of the PNC Foundation’s Grow Up Great initiative, a 10-year, $100 million bilingual initiative to improve early childhood education. The foundation will funnel $25,000 a year for three years to the city’s Head Start program, which provides early education to low-income preschool children.

Partnerships with the Music Academy of Rockford College, the Burpee Museum of Natural History and the Discovery Center Museum will expand, and special activities and curriculum will be created for more than 500 students with the grant.

"That’s how we enrich the lives of our young people, no matter what their economic background might be,” said Mayor Larry Morrissey.

Kathleen Scordato, education department manager at Burpee, compared the Head Start experience with giving kids more tools for their toolbox. As kids grow, she said, they’ll become the architects for the future.

"The more tools we can give them, the more successful they’ll be,” Scordato said.

PNC is also donating staff time to volunteer at Head Start, and the volunteers are just as important as the dollars, said George Davis, executive director of Rockford’s Human Services Department.

The funding comes at a critical time, said Head Start Director Joanne Lewis. Head Start officials should learn this week at what level the federal government will fund the program. Without such donations, the department couldn’t offer all of its current services, she said.

The city’s Head Start program relies on federal dollars. The Rockford School District’s Early Childhood Education program relies on state funding.

The state is offering pre-kindergarten funding through a competitive grant for the 2011-12 school year, and it’s unclear whether the Rockford School District will receive that funding, or if it will be enough to cover program costs. The School Board last month agreed to use as much as $6 million from its reserve fund to offer some form of the program.

This story appeared at on April 4, 2011.

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