Georgetown, Kentucky (June 27, 2016) — Kentucky is getting another boost to early childhood education. Today, Toyota, with United Way and the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood, unveiled plans to expand the United Way Born Learning Academies, adding 63 schools to the kindergarten readiness program’s growing lineup.
The program kicked off in 2012 with a $1 million grant from the automaker, and was later strengthened with an additional $1.2 million investment by the state via its Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge federal grant. As a result, beginning this fall a total of 161 academies will offer learning resources to parents and caregivers of pre-K children throughout the Commonwealth.
Improving Kindergarten Readiness
Today, an estimated 50% of Kentucky’s children are not prepared for kindergarten, according to the Kentucky Department of Education. Taking aim at this deficiency, United Way Born Learning academies are designed to help parents and caregivers improve their children’s kindergarten readiness with free monthly workshops hosted at local schools. Through hands-on activities, parents and caregivers of children under five years old are trained to turn everyday moments into practical learning opportunities.
When Kimberly Young, principal of Frankfort’s Westridge Elementary and mother to a two-year-old, participated in the program at her school, she picked up new ways to create learning moments in every day places like the car or the grocery store.
But that wasn’t the only benefit to the six-month program. “Parents and children form strong connections within the school community through Born Learning,” Young said. “Not only do they forge parent-to-parent support systems, but they also get to know our teachers and staff well before their child enters kindergarten.”
It Takes a Village
Born Learning Academies are made possible with support from both private and public partners.
Toyota launched the program in 2012 with a five-year commitment of financial support totaling $1 million. “Just as early learning experiences are vital to future success in school, they are important to preparing our state’s future workforce,” said Wil James, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky Inc. (TMMK). “Investing in opportunities for our young people to learn and grow is an important philanthropy focus for us. We believe that every child should have a chance at success, and we are proud to collaborate with community partners to help make that happen.”
In 2014, the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood matched Toyota’s grant and some, with the goal of opening 150 new academies over a four year period. “The United Way Born Learning Academies show the impact of private and public collaboration to ensure families and children are supported to succeed in school and life,” said Terry Tolan, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood (GOEC). “Our commitment to invest in early childhood benefits young learners, families and communities.”
In addition to the program’s major supporters, Family Resource and Youth Service Centers (FRYSC), a division of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, serve as an integral program partner, providing teaching staff support for every academy across the state.
“We are pleased to partner with Toyota and the state, as well as communities across Kentucky to expand this important program,” said Kevin Middleton, president of United Way of Kentucky. “Parents are their child’s first teacher and we know this program is helping give young children a sturdy foundation before they start school.”
Money Well Spent
Investing in quality early childhood education offers substantial benefits. In fact, according to economist James Heckman with the University of Chicago, every $1 spent on early childhood education carries a 7-10% return on investment.
According to the Prichard Committee, children who attend high-quality preschool are more likely to be employed and have higher earnings as adults.
A list of the 2016 Born Learning Academies follows.
2016 Toyota-funded Schools
|Adair County Primary Center||Adair|
|Jennie Rogers Elementary||Boyle|
|Clinton County Early Childhood Center||Clinton|
|Rosenwald Center for Families and Children||Franklin|
|Second Street Elementary||Franklin|
|Dry Ridge Elementary||Grant|
|Harlan Independent Elementary||Harlan|
|Whitley Elementary and Pine Knot Primary||McCreary|
|Erlanger Early Learning Center||Kenton|
|James E. Biggs Preschool||Kenton|
2016 State-funded Schools
|Bourbon Central Elementary||Bourbon|
|Deer Park Elementary||Daviess|
|E.P Ward Elementary||Fleming|
|W.D. Osborne Elementary||Floyd|
|Collins Lane Elementary||Franklin|
|Madison Kindergarten Academy||Madison|
|David T. Wilson Elementary||Meade|
|Menifee County Elementary||Menifee|
|Mt. Sterling Elementary||Montgomery|
|East Valley Elementary||Morgan|
|Nicholas Co Elementary||Nicholas|
|A.B. Combs Elementary||Perry|
|R.W. Combs Elementary||Perry|
|Russell Springs Elementary||Russell|
|Russell Primary School||Russell|
|Painted Stone Elementary||Shelby|
|Taylor County Elementary||Taylor|
|Lost River Elementary||Warren|
|T.C. Cherry Elementary||Warren|
Toyota (NYSE:TM), the world's top automaker and creator of the Prius and the Mirai fuel cell vehicle, is committed to building vehicles for the way people live through our Toyota, Lexus and Scion brands. Over the past 50 years, we’ve built more than 30 million cars and trucks in North America, where we operate 14 manufacturing plants (10 in the U.S.) and directly employ more than 44,000 people (more than 34,000 in the U.S.). Our 1,800 North American dealerships (1,500 in the U.S.) sold more than 2.8 million cars and trucks (nearly 2.5 million in the U.S.) in 2015 – and about 80 percent of all Toyota vehicles sold over the past 20 years are still on the road today.
Toyota partners with philanthropic organizations across the country, with a focus on education, safety and the environment. As part of this commitment, we share the company’s extensive know-how garnered from building great cars and trucks to help community organizations and other nonprofits expand their ability to do good. For more information about Toyota, visit www.toyotanewsroom.com.
About United Way of Kentucky
Since 1984, United Way of Kentucky has been serving individuals, families and communities by assisting local United Ways in the Commonwealth to improve the education, income and health of all Kentuckians. It is currently supported by 22 local United Ways which help to build stronger, healthier, and safer communities across 88 counties. United Way of Kentucky is a 501(c)(3) health and human service organization governed by a statewide volunteer board of directors.
About the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood