Written by Betsy Abraham Wednesday, 18 December 2013 00:00
Thanks to a grant from the Early Years Institute (EYI), several area daycares and early childhood organizations will be able to expand their services and continue to help Westbury youngsters learn valuable skills they need to succeed in school and life.
Eleven groups applied for the Ready Set Achieve grant, which was donated to the EYI by The Rauch Foundation. Grants were awarded to nine groups in amounts ranging from $1,000 to $10,000.
The grants will go toward a variety of community agencies dedicated to helping improve school readiness for children ages one to five. Many applicants wanted to use the money to expand their daycare programs, while others wanted to use the funding to increase literacy or create educational workshops for parents. The LIFE Lutheran Church is one such group that received a grant for $7,500, which will help them continue their free ESL program.
“We’re going to hire one or two more teachers, which will help reduce class sizes, and maybe take students on a local field trip,” said church administrator Laura Bauer. “We’re also hoping to enhance the program for the young children to keep them engaged.”
KMC Academy will be using their $1,000 grant money to revamp their playground and support their pre-school programming.
“The essence of the program is to give children a fighting chance during the brain development process by experiential learning and exposure to fundamentals,” said academy director Pam Hall. “This money is going to help a lot. It is definitely a good support, because I need as much as I can to expand the program and share the education, because what it’s all about is education.”
If it weren’t for the RSA grant, the Girl Scouts of Nassau County (GSNC) would not have been able to continue their program at Westbury Head Start. The $3,500 allows the Scouts to cover the two-year membership fee of 25 pre-school girls so that they can participate in the Daises program.
“This helps reduce the income barrier to Girl Scouts and the program they’ll be using will help them begin to understand diversity, working with each other, and more about animals,” said GSNC Chief Fund Development Officer Luci Duckson-Bramble.
The Girl Scout program is approved by the State Department of Education to coincide with curriculum, so it will help match and enhance the skills the girls are already learning. For these four and five-year olds, Duckson-Bramble says that the expectation is not as much knowledge, but for them to “do hands on activities and share with each other and learn about each other’s differences.” There will also be a huge emphasis on animals, and helping the girls understand more about the environment, as well as healthy living and relationships.
“We firmly believe that providing girls with certain information will help build and prepare them for the future,” said Duckson-Bramble. “Since the curriculum is really changing, we feel that what we have to offer will enhance the educational process for girls.”
The grant money will also help the Scouts provide a staff member to lead the Daisies. While many Girl Scout programs are led by volunteers, Duckson-Bramble says in some communities there is a lack of parent involvement. She says that having a staff person in place can help with volunteers, and train parents to become volunteers and get involved.
“One big piece is really working with the parents, and trying to engage them so that the girls will have a potential leader or two down the road. We’re hoping to train some of the mothers and help them continue on down the road in scouting,” she said.
For Westbury TLC, the $7,500 in grant money means being able to help eight additional children have access to daycare. The daycare will be able to offer tuition assistance for lower income individuals eligible for social services in the community, and provide infants and toddlers a curriculum that emphasizes sensory and cognitive development.
“I completely believe the development of the child is all within the early years so being able to impact more children will be really beneficial,” said Westbury TLC owner and director Marianna Ferrantelli. “The problem is, when kids hit kindergarten, they’re not developmentally there because they didn’t have the opportunity that people who pay privately do. Now we can give them the same opportunities as everyone else.”
This is the RSA fund’s first year, and EYI President Dana Friedman says she is happy with the outcome.
“We’re thrilled with the amount of responses we got and with the applicants,” said Friedman at the grant give away event last week, held at TD Bank on Brush Hollow Road in Westbury. “Everyone here is making a difference in the lives of children, and in doing so, making a difference in the future of Westbury.”