Written by The Business Journal Staff
The James B. McClatchy Foundation will benefit Central Valley early education with $4.1 million in grants to keep students on track.
Early childhood education is a cornerstone of keeping students on track for learning and development in kindergarten and beyond, especially for dual-language learners. Dual language learners were disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 education disruptions at a higher rate than those children who solely spoke English.
The McClatchy Foundation’s mission is to support dual language-speaking children across the Central Valley. The foundation will award $4.1 in grant funding to several Central Valley school districts and partnerships in order to further this mission. The grants are part of the McClatchy Foundation’s Growing Strong Learners initiative that helps dual language learners thrive in early education programs.
“These grants are a crucial part of our larger strategy,” says Heather Bernikoff, the foundation’s program officer for education. “They each complement and expand upon one another advancing us toward our audacious goal of supporting DLL students, their families and the educators who work with them across the entire Central Valley. It is a large goal, but with the partnership of districts, nonprofits, County Offices of Education and other funders, we intend to reach it.”
The grants will go to Delhi Unified School District, Lindsay Unified School District, Washington Unified School District, Winters Joint Unified School District and Woodlake Unified School District. It will also go to California Education Partners.
“We are pleased to partner with JBMF in supporting the youngest learners across the Central Valley,” says Steven Kellner, director of program sustainability and growth for California Education Partners. “Our Pre-K to 3rd Grade Coherence networks, focused on early math and early literacy, will help districts support students by connecting quality preschool to top quality elementary education.”
In Lindsay Unified in Tulare County, the money will help prepare the district for more than 400 incoming Pre-K students, most of whom are Spanish speaking.
Cheri Doria, director of preschools for Lindsay Unified, said, “It is imperative that we all understand and adequately address the struggles of Dual Language Learners, ensuring that DLL learning facilitators receive the best training possible, and provide DLL parents with the support they need.”
Priscilla Enriquez, CEO of McClatchy Foundation, said that the funding underscores recent census data, which revealed California’s population is made up mostly of diverse and multiracial individuals. She called these young learners California’s demographic future.
“The new school year brings the added uncertainty of COVID-19 and those parent fears add to the constant challenge of language barriers. This grant funding allows us to implement a hybrid model of support, empowering us to provide learning facilitators, DLLs, and families with the education, support, and resources that ensure future success for not only each child, but for the entire community,” Doria said.