Drexel University has announced two grants totaling $2.6 million in support of an early childhood education initiative in West Philadelphia.
The grants, which include $1.63 million from the Vanguard Strong Start for Kids Program and $987,000 from the William Penn Foundation, will support the West Philadelphia Action for Early Learning Initiative (AFEL) over the next three years. The Drexel-led collaboration grew out of a 2014 William Penn Foundation planning grant that revealed the dearth of high-quality early childcare providers in the West Philadelphia Promise Neighborhood and its negative impact on the readiness of neighborhood children for kindergarten. In response, the initiative will focus on boosting access to high-quality early childcare and building families' awareness and knowledge of the importance of such care so that neighborhood children are kindergarten-ready when they enter school and are reading at grade level by third grade.
The Vanguard grant will help expand the AFEL Family Ambassador program to more families in the neighborhood and will also support implementation of AFEL Family University, a community-based parenting education program modeled after the Harlem Children's Zone in New York City.
"The Action for Early Learning Initiative remains an important component in Drexel's community investment strategy, which includes a cradle-to-career approach to education support for families in the Promise Zone," said Drexel University president John Fry. "Drexel is grateful for Vanguard and the William Penn Foundation's shared vision and investment in quality early childhood education, which will go a long way to improving the lives of children."