Wednesday, June 24, 2015

City Announces $300,000 Grant from Kellogg Foundation


The City of Richmond announced today that it has been awarded a grant of $300,000 from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Michigan. The grant was awarded to support the city’s continued work toward a stronger system of early childhood development and education in the City of Richmond. This award is a direct result of the work of the Early Childhood Task Force, convened last August by the Mayor’s Office of Community Wealth Building in collaboration with Richmond Public Schools and with the participation of numerous early childhood providers and community organizations.

The grant aims to support Richmond’s efforts to institutionalize stronger coordination across multiple early childhood services and to develop new models for connecting families to needed support services. “I am very pleased that the W.K. Kellogg Foundation has recognized the important work on poverty reduction being done in Richmond and elected to provide significant financial support to our efforts in early childhood,” stated Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “This support from a major national foundation further validates our comprehensive, holistic approach to meeting the needs of low-income communities, starting with our youngest residents.”

The grant fund will support work in three areas: First, it will support the work of the Richmond Early Childhood Cabinet, a collaborative working group of City of Richmond and Richmond Public Schools (RPS) program managers and staff members involved in providing services to young children and their families. Second, the grant will support high-quality research, in partnership with the VCU Center for Society and Health, to guide policymakers concerning Richmond’s overall system of early childhood development. Third, the grant will support a pilot project based in Gilpin Court, in partnership with the FRIENDS Association of Richmond, to develop strong resident leaders who can be peer advocates for quality early childhood education.

“Both common sense and research evidence point to the critical importance of the early years of human life, when the brain is developing, for lifelong outcomes,” stated Dr. Thad Williamson, director of the Mayor’s Office of Community Wealth Building. “Kids who arrive at Kindergarten already behind, too often never catch up. We won’t make the dent in poverty we need to if parents don’t have access to safe, quality child care.”

“What we have not had to date is the collaborative framework needed to tie different services together into a common vision for families and the community as a whole,” continued Williamson. “This grant from the Kellogg Foundation gives us a golden opportunity to develop and sustain a new collaborative approach to better identifying and meeting early childhood needs in Richmond.”

A key goal of the Early Childhood Cabinet is to define a shared roadmap for the provision of comprehensive support services for families of young children, particularly low-income families, from birth to age five. Critical goals of this effort include increasing the number of children who enter kindergarten prepared to learn and improving access to affordable, quality child care for working parents in low-income neighborhoods. This grant will also support the work of a partner group, the Richmond Early Childhood Action Council, which will bring together City and RPS staff with a wide range of community providers and stakeholders to help develop and articulate a strong community-wide framework for excellence in early childhood education.

“A strong educational foundation is one of the greatest gifts we can provide to our children,” stated David Young, Executive Director of the FRIENDS Association for Children. “We see the impact this has on our preschoolers every day, as we prepare them for success in kindergarten and lifelong learning. FRIENDS Association for Children is proud to partner with the City of Richmond, Richmond Public Schools, VCU Center for Society and Health, and a variety of community partners to help make quality and affordable early childhood education programming available to all children and families throughout the Richmond Metropolitan area.”

“We are excited about this opportunity to bring focus to early childhood needs, and highlight our existing assets, in the City of Richmond," said Jacque Hale, Director of Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond. "The network of players and providers that serve children from birth to five is complex.  This grant will help us all get on the same page and work together towards a shared goal: all children, from birth to age five, are healthy, well-cared for, and ready to succeed in school and in life.”

Funds from this grant will be placed in a Special Fund in the Office of the Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Human Services, pending Council authorization of acceptance of the grant. Implementation of the grant will be administered by the Mayor’s Office of Community Wealth Building.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life. The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit www.wkkf.org.