INDIAN RIVER COUNTY - The Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation has awarded the Kindergarten Readiness Collaborative a $40,000 grant to support the nonprofit’s mission to develop a high-quality early childhood system that is family-centered.

The KRC is a local nonprofit working with over 50 partner agencies to help prepare children and their families for school and life. It partners with the Moonshot Moment, which has a goal of having 90 percent of all students reading on grade level by the third-grade.

The Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation is a New Haven, Connecticut-based supporter of the arts and education that has previously given $150,000 to The Learning Alliance and $25,000 to KRC, both to support Moonshot Moment programs.

In 2018 the EHTF helped KRC gather data and create a resource for parents in Fellsmere, to ensure their children are ready to enter kindergarten.

“Our first year of family engagement work in Fellsmere was extremely successful,” said Dr. Nivea Torres, KRC executive director. “We conducted 14 parent training sessions that reached 80 children and served 45 unique families. We served 599 hot meals and distributed 213 books for home libraries.”

Building on the success of the Family Connection Center in Fellsmere, the current grant of $40,000 is so the KRC can expand their work to the Gifford Family Connection Center.

“KRC partnered with 19 local agencies to build the confidence of parents and children through interactive fun activities that prepared them for kindergarten,” said Dr. Torres. “This year, we launch our parent training sessions in Gifford at Dodgertown Elementary, and we are anticipating the same level of success.”

“Kindergarten readiness has been clearly identified by educators and community members as a vital step to growing successful learners and readers,” said Alexis Bivens, EHTF program director. “Our belief is that young learners benefit from a community integration of practices.”

Through data collected in Fellsmere, the KRC concluded that by empowering and encouraging parents through the development of a family engagement model, children can thrive.

In environments where families struggle with extreme poverty, children are subjected to widespread disparities, including higher rates of obesity, lower educational attainment, and less earnings.

According to the United Way, 67% of families in Gifford live in poverty or struggle to support basic needs. To combat this, KRC seeks to arm every parent, regardless of income or zip code, with the knowledge and tools they need to raise healthy, productive children.

“Because of places like the Family Connection Center, folks are provided with real answers, in real-time for what is needed to ensure the best experiences for children that live there,” said Ms. Bivens. “We applaud KRC for extending beyond their own programming to form partnerships with practitioners who are integrating practices like social, emotional learning, early identification of struggling readers, and the readiness of the classroom teachers to instruct that reader.”

“To ensure the health and well-being of future generations, and the economic prosperity of Indian River County, we as a community must invest in early learning opportunities and the family support structures that create quality early learning environments for our children, particularly those who are living below the poverty line,” said Dr. Torres.

For more information about the Kindergarten Readiness Collaborative, visit krcirc.org or call (772) 617-4350.

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