Grant Expands Kingergarten Readiness in Douglas County

Release Date: 
2/4/2015

DOUGLAS COUNTY – More Douglas County school districts will get a chance to survey current services, build partnerships and develop new programs aimed at preparing young children for kindergarten, thanks to a grant from The Ford Family Foundation to the South-Central Oregon Early Learning Hub.

The foundation awarded $38,100 to the Early Learning Hub for its Kindergarten Readiness Partnership and Innovation program in December. The money will be used to hire a part-time person to oversee these efforts in four districts in South County. When hired, this person will work with South Umpqua, Days Creek, Glendale and Camas Valley schools and communities to identify needs and develop ways to address those needs.

The grant follows earlier state funding that seeks to strengthen connections between early learning programs and the K-12 educational system.

Currently, 11 of 19 school districts, which includes 20 elementary schools in Douglas and Lake counties, are participating in the KRPI program. These funds help districts identify strategies to engage families and build on efforts to link early learning communities with schools. This new grant means all school districts within Douglas County will receive access to the KRPI family engagement efforts, though not all are participating.

“This project will promote better outcomes for Douglas County’s youngest children through a seamless, holistic framework. It will offer all districts and schools opportunities for successful response to the needs of families, smart and efficient use of public and private resources, and effective preparation of young children for kindergarten and future success,” said Gillian Wesenberg, director of the South-Central Oregon Early Learning Hub. “With a coordinated, systemic approach, families and communities are better able to prepare their children for a lifetime of learning.”

KRPI grants help school district partners and parents identify strengths and gaps in community resources and develop homegrown solutions to address those gaps. In Yoncalla, parents said they wanted more before- and after-school involvement. One result was a Dr. Seuss night to promote literacy in a fun way through book donations and activities. In Glide, families banded together to bring needed items to a homeless community in a nearby park. Projects and services are tailored to the needs identified by community feedback. These approaches fit with Oregon’s early learning and education initiatives. 

Kindergarten Readiness Partnership and Innovation is a program of the South-Central Oregon Early Learning Hub, which is administered by Douglas Education Service District. The program aims to assist 3,600 at-risk children, ages 3 to 6, in districts within Douglas and Lake counties.

For more information, contact Gillian Wesenberg, South-Central Oregon Early Learning Hub director, at 541-679-3037 or send email to gillian.wesenberg@douglasesd.k12.or.us.

The Ford Family Foundation was established in 1957 by Kenneth W. and Hallie E. Ford. Its mission is "successful citizens and vital rural communities" in Oregon and Siskiyou County, Calif. The Foundation is located in Roseburg, Ore., with a scholarship office in Eugene. www.tfff.org.

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