[Cape Charles, September 16, 2015] – Smart Beginnings Eastern Shore has received a $7,100 grant from the PNC Foundation to promote early literacy and school readiness from two to five year old children on the Eastern Shore. PNC provided the funding in support of Grow Up Great, its bilingual program in early childhood education.
The Smart Beginnings Eastern Shore Everyday Fun with Reading workshops are an early childhood/family literacy program that helps parents learn ways to provide an enriched language environment at home through reading to their young children.
Dr. Linda Schulz, Chair of Smart Beginnings Eastern Shore stated, “Many children on the Shore reach kindergarten unprepared for school. There are many reasons, but an important factor is that children in poverty live in a language-impoverished world. Research has shown that by the time they reach age three, children in poverty on average hear 30 million fewer words than their counterparts living in more affluent homes, leaving them less likely to have the language skills necessary to learn to read by third grade. We know that children who are read to during infancy and preschool years are more likely to be ready to learn to read by the time they reach kindergarten.”
Roberta Newman, Smart Beginnings Eastern Shore Consulting Coordinator, stated, “Reading aloud in the early years is key to children’s language development and one of the most important things parents can do to assure their children are ready for school. Everyday Fun with Reading is designed to help parents use books in the most effective and enjoyable way to promote their children’s early literacy skills.”
The grant from the PNC Foundation, which receives its principal funding from The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (NYSE: PNC), will allow the Smart Beginnings Eastern Shore to provide free workshops for 320 children and their parents. The Early Literacy Committee of Smart Beginnings Eastern Shore developed the Everyday Fun with Reading Program. Staff from the Accomack Public Schools lead the committee with additional members from Head Start, the public library system, and Eastern Shore Community College. The workshops, led by local instructors from public schools and the community, will be held at public libraries and public schools on the Shore and are free to all families attending. Families will take home free children’s reading books from each workshop. The schedule for the workshops will be announced later this fall.
Wendy Lilliston, Branch Manager of the Eastville and Onley Branches of PNC Bank, stated, “PNC is proud that we can support this wonderful program to promote early literacy and school readiness for all children on the Eastern Shore. The project is certainly in direct alignment with the goals of the PNC Foundation’s Grow Up Great Initiative.”
Smart Beginnings Eastern Shore, founded in 2011, is a coalition of 40 agencies, organizations, businesses, and concerned individuals who share the principle that quality early childhood programs can reduce the effects of poverty so prevalent among children on Eastern Shore. The organization’s mission is to promote school readiness and well-being for all children from birth to age five on the Shore. Smart Beginnings Eastern Shore is affiliated as a community partner with the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation/Smart Beginnings Statewide network. The organization accomplishes its mission through programs targeted at promoting early school readiness and family literacy, health and wellness, parent engagement, improving the quality of childcare and preschool programs and increasing community awareness of the importance of the early childhood years. Smart Beginnings Eastern Shore accepts donations from the public in support of its early childhood initiatives. Contributions may be made at the website of its fiscal sponsor, Northampton County Education Foundation, ncedufoundation.com.
The PNC Foundation, which receives its principal funding from The PNC Financial Services Group (www.pnc.com), actively supports organizations that provide services for the benefit of communities in which it has a significant presence. The foundation focuses its philanthropic mission on early childhood education and community and economic development, which includes the arts and culture. Through Grow Up Great, its signature cause that began in 2004, PNC has created a $350 million, multi-year initiative to help prepare children from birth to age 5 for success in school and life.