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Find out more about Community Foundation for the Alleghenies Early Childhood Education initiativeIn October, we were thrilled to announce $235,000 in grant funding to address a critical need for area children and families: access to high quality early childhood education.

The grant awards, which will support teachers and providers at 50 local facilities for early learning and affect hundreds of area children, are the first distributions from our Early Childhood Education Fund. The fund represents a new CFA initiative to create a permanent resource to support early childhood education in the region. Through this initiative, CFA is working to help more kids be ready for kindergarten and become proficient readers by the end of 3rd grade—a milestone identified by researchers as a marker of success for a child’s entire life.

Research shows that children who have access to quality early childhood education are not only more likely to attend college and lead productive, successful lives, but they are also less likely to drop out of high school, get into criminal trouble, or become teen parents, according to data compiled through The Abecedarian Project, the High/Scope Perry Preschool Study, the Chicago Longitudinal Study of Child-Parent Centers, and the Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Project.

The funding focuses on areas of greatest impact, Program Officer Angie Berzonski said.

”The goals for this initiative are three-fold: provide more access to high quality early childhood education for families who do not qualify for currently existing subsidized programs; provide enhanced professional development for staff; and help to upgrade facilities, curriculum, and other resources necessary to expand a program from a low quality to a high quality program, as indicated by state standards,” Berzonski said.

Quite simply, if we are able to help more providers become high quality programs, more children will be prepared socially, emotionally, and academically for future success.

The grant announcements were made at Trinity Lutheran Child Care and Learning Center in Somerset. The center is one of 19 facilities that are part of the Learning Lamp’s Shared Services Alliance, a program that received one of the Early Childhood Education Fund grants. CFA is working to make the fund a permanent grantmaking resource for kids, families, and providers in the region, CFA President Mike Kane said.

“Part of our role as a community foundation is to identify long- and short-term community needs and to create resources that help the community respond to those needs,” he said. “In this case, we’re building on a wealth of research that shows we can create a better future for our region by focusing on our youngest learners.”

Longitudinal studies have shown that quality early childhood learning has multi-generational impact: not only are children with access to it more likely to finish high school, but so are their children.

“By helping more local families give their children this life-changing advantage, donors to the Early Childhood Education Fund are not just helping a child live a better life, they’re also building a better future for our community as a whole,” Kane added. Find out more about the initiative or donate online by visiting

The 2019 Early Childhood Education Fund grant distributions will go to eight area organizations, some of which will then be redistributed to support multiple facilities:

Tableland Services, Inc. (Head Start): $9,000
• $4,800 to be used to upgrade curriculum and technology for up to 12 sites; $4,200 to be used for training 36 teachers/aides on new curriculum.

The Rainbow Connection Learning Center, LLC: $11,000
• $9,000.00 to be used to implement management software and renovate the playground; $2,000 to be used for professional development training for 18 staff members.

Cambria County Child Development Corp.: $15,000
• To be used for professional development and resources for staff at the Morrell School to carry out a STEAM Learning Park project, which is currently in development.

Small Town Hope, Inc.: $26,000
• To contract with a certified consultant to develop and implement a new curriculum that aligns with Northern Cambria School District’s Kindergarten readiness standards.

Mom’s House, Inc.: $34,000
• To add additional staff, which will allow the facility to accept more children and reduce the wait list of families who wish to utilize their services.

Alternative Community Resource Program, Inc.: $55,000
• To assess behavior modification issues and potential severe behavioral issues with preschool children and Pre-K Counts students, and provide training and/or behavioral health professional staff support to the programs and the children.

The Learning Lamp, Inc.: $60,000
• To be used to enhance the Shared Services Alliance (an effort that shares resources and programming among 19 different facilities, not just Learning Lamp sites) by increasing staff support, increasing focus on child behavior, aligning curriculum of members with kindergarten readiness requirements, and improving operational efficiencies.

Early Learning Resource Center Region 6: $25,000
• To provide tuition assistance to families in Cambria and Somerset counties who do not qualify for federally funded child care assistance.

To learn how you could be part of this important initiative, visit our Early Childhood Education page.


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