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Metro United Way’s Early Childhood Excellence Academy receives $400,000 from David C. and Wendy L. Novak Foundation

Posted on January 20th, 2012

The David C. and Wendy L. Novak Foundation has invested $400,000 to expand learning strategies at child care centers funded by Metro United Way within the seven-county region we serve through the establishment of the Early Childhood Excellence (ECE) Academy. The gift provides incentives and rewards teachers in child care centers for making quality improvements in their classroom.

“We are honored and grateful that the David C. and Wendy L. Novak Foundation chose to invest in the future of education in our community in such a special and long-lasting way,” said Joe Tolan, President of Metro United Way. “The generosity of David and Wendy Novak is leading the way in understanding that the power of early childhood education is truly life-changing,” he said.

The ultimate goal is to exemplify high-quality early childhood education by having all of 16 child care centers who receive funding from Metro United Way viewed as the “Centers of Choice” for childcare in our community.

The David C. and Wendy L. Novak Foundation gift allows teachers from participating Metro United Way-funded child care centers to be evaluated and mentored on various areas of early childhood education that will help improve the quality of their classrooms. The mentoring will be directed toward helping teachers implement and grow high-quality curriculum in their classrooms. As teachers reach milestones and make continuous improvements in their classrooms, they will advance through the Academy and be rewarded with incentives and salary increases.

At this time, 10 Metro United Way-funded child care centers have teachers participating in the Early Childhood Excellence Academy with the goal of having of all 16 centers participate within the next 12 months.

The concept for this Academy came from Metro United Way’s early childhood education “learning lab,” Gheens Bridges to Tomorrow. The Bridges four-year pilot program sought, through the work of family coaching, early childhood education curriculum development and the professional development of teaching staff, to better prepare the children for kindergarten and school success.

The ECE Academy developed and implemented with the support of Community Coordinated Child Care (4-C), supports both professional and curriculum development, integrating many of the best practices learned from Gheens Bridges to Tomorrow. The ECE Academy will continue to support the Bridges program as it moves into its second phase.

The Early Childhood Excellence Academy is one of many ways Metro United Way works to support education in our community and directly aligns with their long-term community aspirations that all children will enter kindergarten ready to learn with the eventual result that all youth will graduate from high school on time and ready for college, work and life. Their short-term goals, in support of education, are that 77% of our children enter kindergarten prepared to succeed and, additionally, that 87% of our youth graduate from high school on time by 2018.