Two Smart Start partnerships in North Carolina received a grant to improve the transition to kindergarten for children who are vulnerable to poor achievement and underserved by existing programs.
The $4 million grant will launch a five-year plan to unite community resources and create the Spark program to teach at least 1,000 children the skills needed to be ready for kindergarten.
The program also aims to help parents build parenting and learning skills to become a child’s first teacher, since as many as one in three children in the U.S. are not ready to learn when they start school.
“We want to link pre-kindergarten and early-learning settings with the elementary school system,” says Karen Ponder, president of the NC Partnership for Children, Smart Start’s parent group. “We want parents and child care providers to know what the kindergarten teacher expects on the first day of school.”
The W. K. Kellogg Foundation made the grant to the Down East partnership, which includes Nash and Edgecombe counties, and the Region A partnership, which includes Haywood, Jackson, Cherokee, Swain, Clay, Macon and Graham counties and the Qualla Boundary.