Communities in Action
Tuscaloosa Pre-K Initiative
The Tuscaloosa Pre-K Initiative began in 2005 with a local Pre-K Task Force appointed by Mayor Walter Maddox and the City Council. The Task Force established partnerships between the City of Tuscaloosa, The University of Alabama, Stillman College and members of the Tuscaloosa business community and evolved into the Tuscaloosa Pre-K Initiative, which now serves four-year-olds in 26 pre-k classrooms in the Tuscaloosa City Schools. The classrooms are supported with a combination of city, federal and state investments, including more than $140,000 that has been raised over the years through the annual Mayor’s 5K for Pre-K.
Morgan County Starting Strong
Starting Strong is a collaborative, community-wide initiative focused on expanding access to quality pre-k programs and increasing the availability of kindergarten readiness information for all families throughout Morgan County, Alabama. Starting Strong is a partnership between the Decatur-Morgan Chamber of Commerce, Decatur-Morgan County's Minority Development Association, The United Way of Morgan County, the Community Action Partnership of North Alabama, local school systems and community-based pre-k providers. The team advocates, applies for First Class Pre-K grants and fundraises to expand access to high-quality pre-k all children in Morgan County. With the addition of five classrooms in 2013-2014 academic year, five classrooms in the 2014-2015 year and five classrooms in the 2015-2016 year, approximately 260 young people have voluntary access to Pre-K programming due to the efforts of the initiative.
Bold Goals targets kindergarten readiness in Central Alabama
The Early Learning Action Network of Bold Goals Education works to ensure all children are ready to learn when they start kindergarten. To achieve this goal, the Early Learning Action Network is helping more communities have access to Alabama First Class Pre-K Classrooms through a community-based expansion pilot project.
Through this project, the Early Learning Action Network has assembled a cohort of community-based private childcare centers. Members of the cohort commit to working with the Network to assess the quality of their centers, make improvements if necessary, and ultimately apply for public funding through First Class Pre-K.
In September, 2016, the cohort met for an Application Review Session deep-diving into the components of the Alabama State Department of Early Childhood Education’s First Class Pre-K Grant. Over the next several months, cohort members will be paired with a technical assistance coordinator from either Alabama Public Television, Childcare Resources, or Success By 6 who will assist and support the cohort members as they start the application, which will open at the end of the year. The technical assistance coordinators will connect them to resources, providing guidance to solve problems that may arise, and act as cheerleaders at every step of the process.
Click here for more on Bold Goals.
Montgomery Education Foundation supports community providers
For more than three years, the Montgomery Education Foundation (MEF) has supported and coordinated the development of 21 high-quality pre-k classrooms across the county. Through MEF's advocacy and support, a unique model has been created that brings a variety of pre-k providers together in partnership to provide high-quality pre-k utilizing the state's First Class Pre-K standards and guidelines. Partners include Montgomery Public Schools, First Class Pre-K, Head Start, Success By Six, the Family Guidance Center and the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce. In 2015, MEF began hosting a series of forums to exchange information about First Class Pre-K with prospective providers from the community’s private non-profit, for-profit and faith-based preschool providers.
Orange Beach parent brings classroom to a former "pre-k desert"
After finding out that no First Class Pre-K program existed in her community, Orange Beach parent Jeanna Bulman worked with a coalition of local parents and city officials to successfully submit an application to bring a First Class Pre-K classroom to Orange Beach Elementary School. Bulman and other parents in the community also worked closely with Parent VOICES for Pre-K and the Alabama School Readiness Alliance to advocate for the $10 million increase in state pre-k investments that made pre-k expansion possible in 2015. The city is providing matching funds for the First Class Pre-K classroom grant and the Erie Hall Meyer Foundation and State Representative Steve McMillan are providing funding for a new, age-appropriate playground at the site. The new classroom serves 18 four-year-olds that otherwise would not have had the opportunity to attend a high-quality pre-k classroom within their city limits.
Tri-City (Bessemer, Midfield and Fairfield) Pre-K Center
Forest Hills Community Development Center, also known as the "Tri-City Pre-K Center," is a collaborative early learning center in Fairfield established in 2014 by the Bessemer, Fairfield and Midfield school systems in Jefferson County. In 2015, Forest Hills welcomed an additional partner to its facility, the faith-based Foundations Early Learning and Family Center.