There a strong correlation between high-quality early childhood education and overall academic success. This trend is even more important for children from low-income families, many of whom cannot afford quality pre-K or childcare, and therefore have a higher chance of entering kindergarten behind their peers.
We held a press conference on April 2 at Lucy Read Pre-Kindergarten School to announce that we are providing a $215,000 grant to Austin Independent School District to open more Pre-K classrooms for low-income three-year-olds next year.
Currently, AISD serves 64 income-eligible children in a Pre-K 3 pilot program in two high-need elementary campuses in East Austin. AISD’s Pre-K 3 program currently provides half-day instruction to children who have not participated in formal early education. The $215,000 grant will allow for the opening of 15 additional AISD Pre-K 3 classrooms—four classrooms will provide full-day instruction—serving an additional 480 students.
“We have piloted the Pre-K 3 program this year with great success and are grateful to United Way for Greater Austin for this generous donation to expand this important program to more students and schools in our district next school year,” Dr. Paul Cruz, AISD superintendent, said. “We work to give our students the best possible foundation, and it begins with early childhood education.”
The grant is made possible by donations from three generous Austin families: Eric and Keri Stumberg, Sandy and Lisa Gottesman, and John Cullen. Donations from the Gottesmans and John Cullen were made in honor of John’s wife, Sue Cullen, who passed away in 2010.
The funds will be used for the purchase of classroom furniture, materials, curricula and assessment tools. The campuses chosen for the Pre-K 3 program include: Sims; Reilly; Galindo; Pecan Springs; Guerrero Thompson; Dawson; Jordan; Pleasant Hill; Boone; Allison; Cunningham; Overton; Oak Springs; and Zavala.
“We are humbled that seasoned donors, such as the Stumbergs, Gottesmans and John Cullen, selected UWATX to be the recipient of their generous donations,” Debbie Bresette, UWATX president, said. “It is a privilege to serve as a steward of their financial investment in this community, and we are confident that this expansion of AISD’s Pre-K 3 program will be realized for many years.”