Quail Valley Charities supports Kindergarten Readiness Collaborative

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — The Indian River Community Foundation (IRCF) is proud to announce the first grant award from the Quail Valley Charities Nonprofit Collaboration Fund, a fund strategically designed to underwrite the costs associated with nonprofit collaboration.

Quail Valley Charities established the fund at IRCF after growing concerned by the number of competing grant proposals to support seemingly similar community initiatives. Kevin Given, Vice President of Quail Valley Charities, worked with IRCF leadership to craft a funding initiative that would encourage the community to work together to improve the health and well-being of Indian River County.

The Kindergarten Readiness Collaborative received a grant in the amount of $35,000 to convene over a one-year period more than 30 community organizations to define the current state of early learning initiatives. The work will support Indian River County’s Moonshot Moment goal of having 90 percent of third graders reading on grade level by 2018. The goal of the Kindergarten Readiness Collaborative is to identify gaps and prioritize opportunities, culminating in a strategic plan to ensure all children are emotionally and academically ready to succeed when they enter kindergarten.

“Prior to the work of the Kindergarten Readiness Collaborative, the Moonshot Moment was focused on children who are already in the school system,” said Meredith Egan, chair of the steering committee coordinating the work of the Kindergarten Readiness Collaborative. “This is the first time we’ve focuses as a community on what we can do in the first five years of a child’s life to help achieve the third grade literacy goal.”

The premise of the Kindergarten Readiness Collaborative is based on research identified by the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Campaign for Grade Level Reading that shows learning begins long before a child enters kindergarten.

“As early as 18 months, low-income children begin to fall behind in vocabulary development and other skills critical for reading and school success,” Egan said. “We know that parents play an enormous role in closing this gap, as do daycare providers, pediatricians, preschools programs, and the broader community.”

To facilitate understanding, the Kindergarten Readiness Collaborative is organizing community-wide summits to allow local organizations to learn from one another, as well as site visits and best practice programs as far north as Jacksonville and south to Miami. A seven-member steering committee represents a cross-sector of those engaged in the Collaborative including representatives from Indian River County Healthy Start Coalition the United Way, John’s Island Community Service League, School District of Indian River County, The Learning Alliance and The Robert F. and Eleonora W. McCabe Foundation.

“The Kindergarten Readiness Collaborative is well positioned to demonstrate the value of collaboration,” Given said. “At the same time they’re build[ing] an important road map for early learning initiatives that will help achieve our community’s Moonshot Moment goal.”

To learn more about the Quail Valley Charities Nonprofit Collaboration Fund visit www.ircommunityfoundation.com or contact IRCF Chief Executive Officer Jeff Pickering (772) 492-1407.

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