Thrive by Five Washington and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have announced grants totaling $8 million to two Washington State community education partnerships that have shown progress in helping prepare children to enter kindergarten ready to learn.
The White Center Early Learning Initiative and Yakima-based Ready by Five were launched last year to test new ways to increase access to high-quality early learning opportunities for children from birth to age 5. Each of the partnerships, which are also known as Thrive Demonstration Communities, will receive $4 million over the next year. Previously, the White Center Early Learning Initiative had received $11.7 million from the foundation, while Ready by Five was awarded $5 million.
Both partnerships have been developing programs and services for children, families, and caregivers, including home visitation for expectant families, play-and-learn groups for toddlers, resources to support language development and literacy, and a kindergarten transition program. In addition, the programs are testing elements of the state's quality rating and improvement system to help childcare providers increase the quality of care they offer while providing families with objective information about child care in their community.
"Every child deserves the best start in life possible," said Valisa Smith, senior program officer for the Gates Foundation's early learning initiative. "That includes having access to quality early learning experiences at home and in their community, so every child who starts kindergarten is ready to learn and succeed in school. The work being done by Thrive by Five Washington and in White Center and East Yakima gives more children access to the experiences they need to develop their potential and creativity."