Early Childhood Strategic Initiative
The mission of The Early Childhood Strategic Initiative is to explore and invest in programs that focus on kindergarten readiness for children ages 3–5 who are not in preschool settings and may, for various reasons, have barriers to accessing those services.
Through this initiative, TFEC leveraged this effort to ultimately improve access to quality early learning opportunities for all children in South Central Pennsylvania. Phase One and Phase Two of the Early Childhood Strategic Initiative were made possible by TFEC’s regional foundation, the Greater Harrisburg Community Foundation.
Phase One of the Early Childhood Strategic Initiative consisted of grantmaking to fund pilot research to determine programmatic priorities. To conduct this assessment, TFEC engaged four community partners who worked to gather community educators, local and regional stakeholders, and familial caregivers whose pre-school aged children were not currently accessing services or who had recently experienced challenges while attempting to access services. In conjunction with the four grantees, TFEC collaborated with School Readiness Consulting to conduct an in-depth needs assessment that documented the existing opportunities along with the challenges faced by families with young children accessing early childhood education, including cultural, economic, and geographic barriers.
From 2017-2021, the Greater Harrisburg Community Foundation (GHCF), a regional foundation of The Foundation for Enhancing Communities, awarded six grants totaling $330,000 through the Greater Harrisburg Community Foundation Early Childhood Strategic Initiative: Phase Two grant opportunity. Each of the following organizations received $55,000 distributed over four years to support programs that served to connect families to early childhood services and resources by ensuring that quality early childhood services and resources exist and are accessible to children and their families, educators, and the greater community.
Covenant Community Corporation
Camp Curtin Community Preschool and New City School Program Early Investment – Increased Opportunity for Good Outcomes: Early Childhood Development in Harrisburg
Camp Curtin Community Preschool and New City School will undertake programs and activities informed by national, state, and local data on early childhood development with outcomes that will build and sustain their capacity to educate young children and their families in ways that will result in better learning and daily life outcomes for both. Services will target children living in Harrisburg and will include low income and non-English speaking families.
Palmyra Public Library
Little Explorers Outreach Program
Palmyra Public Library will provide Little Explorers Early Learning Classes at a downtown location, so families with transportation and/or financial barriers will have access to high-quality preschool education. Grant funds will also support a Preschool Resource Catalog and training on included materials to professionals working with children and families in the Palmyra area.
Perry County Literacy Council
Ready, Set, Kindergarten!
The Perry County Literacy Council will embed the “Ready, Set, Kindergarten!” program in its existing Early Childhood Education Outreach strategic initiative while connecting families to needed resources and expanding its countywide Early Childhood Education footprint and services with the ultimate goals of sustainable dedicated staff and space expansion.
South Middleton School District
South Middleton Early Learning Community Project
South Middleton School District will target early learning providers and community organizations in Cumberland County in order to improve upon community connections and the ability to expand public awareness of resources and services available in their community. Grant funds will also support work that looks to enhance the quality of care offered in the programs by delivering shared trainings for providers and community organizations and the implementation of two STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) labs.
The Salvation Army Harrisburg Capital City Region
Kindergarten Readiness Academy & Parent Engagement
The Salvation Army Harrisburg Capital City Region will provide direct staff to expand parent engagement activities and provide resource materials specifically geared to prospective pre-K students/families. Grant funds will also ensure continued development of its Kindergarten Readiness Academy and provide year-round early childhood programs within newly constructed Salvation Army facilities at 29th Street & Rudy Road, Harrisburg, with the capacity to serve up to 48 pre-K children at any given time.
The Path to Kindergarten Starts Here
WITF Inc. will produce in-person experiences and a range of television, radio, and web resources in English and Spanish, including the building and maintenance of an English/Spanish resource website at ready.witf.org and listo.witf.org to capture and promote the availability and importance of community early childhood resources.
Within Phase Three, GHF made an additional investment of $34,000 every year during 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022 to support programs and projects that support early childhood education within each of its regional foundations. The availability of the Early Childhood Strategic Initiative: Phase 3 highlighted within each regional foundation’s (Greater Harrisburg’s UPstream, Franklin, Mechanicsburg, and Perry) advertised grant focus.
- Implementation of Phases One, Two, and Three Early Childhood Strategic Initiative resulted in a $500,000 total investment in early childhood education from 2017-2022.
- Through these initiatives, TFEC seeks to leverage this effort to ultimately improve access to quality early learning opportunities for all children in the South Central Pennsylvania Counties of Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lebanon, Perry, and York (Dillsburg). Phase One, Two, and Three of the Early Childhood Strategic Initiative are made possible by TFEC’s regional foundation, the Greater Harrisburg Foundation.
- TFEC is additionally pleased to deepen its long standing organizational commitment to early education in our region by working to convene community stakeholders who are sharing intersectional early education work for the benefit of all.