The PNC Foundation has announced the launch of a multiyear vocabulary initiative for underserved pre-kindergarten children in Chicago.
Announced on the tenth anniversary of PNC's Grow Up Great initiative, the $19 million effort will support three programs designed to address the fact that an at-risk child typically hears thirty million fewer words by age four than a child the same age from a higher-income family. The first, the University of Chicago Medicine's Thirty Million Words Initiative, will help up to two hundred and fifty families build their children's vocabularies and, as part of a five-year longitudinal study, will monitor the children's progress from age fifteen months through kindergarten.
A second program designed to help families develop positive routines that support vocabulary development will be introduced in collaboration with community organizations in Chicago. The program will be introduced in four additional cities in 2014 and another five in 2015.
The third component of the initiative, the "Words Are Here, There, and Everywhere" bilingual vocabulary program, is a partnership with Sesame Workshop, which introduced the new Muppet "Buzz Word" specifically for the program. PNC will donate "Words That Help Me Grow" vocabulary tree posters for use in the homes of preschoolers attending Big Shoulders Fund and Chicago Public School early education programs, while later this fall Sesame Workshop will collaborate with PNC to roll out a free multimedia educational kit that includes a DVD featuring Muppets Abby Cadabby and Buzz Word.
PNC also announced that it will extend its early science learning program for preschool children enrolled in Big Shoulders Fund and Chicago Public Schools programs through 2015.
"Teaching letters and vocabulary is a mainstay of Sesame Street because we know it is one of the most fundamental ways to start a child on the road to learning and one of the best weapons against poverty," said Sesame Workshop president and CEO H. Melvin Ming. "We are thrilled to extend our work with PNC to provide families with a new resource to help young children learn new words and foster their verbal skills."