Idaho AEYC awards grants to support development of community preschools

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Fifteen communities across the state are set to receive grant funding through the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children’s Preschool the Idaho Way project, the first step in expanding access to high-quality preschool opportunities for Idaho families. 

The grants, ranging from $5,000 to $10,000, will support community preschool collaboratives as they develop plans to create, expand or enhance early learning programs for 4- and 5-year-olds.

Each of the Preschool the Idaho Way grant recipients have already identified at least three collaborative partners. The leads for each community collaborative are:

  • United Way of Southeastern Idaho – American Falls

  • Blackfoot School District – Blackfoot

  • United Way of North Idaho – Coeur d’Alene

  • Giraffe Laugh – Garden City

  • Jerome School District – Jerome

  • Kendrick-Juliaetta Joint School District – Kendrick

  • Get Ready to Learn Kuna! – Kuna

  • Lewis-Clark State College KinderCollege – Lewiston

  • Marsing School District – Marsing

  • Nampa School District – Nampa

  • Treasures Playschool – Notus

  • Storybook Cottage LLC – Priest River

  • BYU-Idaho Child Labs – Rexburg

  • Jefferson School District – Rigby

  • College of Southern Idaho – Twin Falls

“We are so impressed by the dedication of these collaboratives, and we’re excited to work with them as they develop preschool opportunities that fit the unique needs of their communities,” said Idaho AEYC Executive Director Beth Oppenheimer. “Preschool the Idaho Way is all about creating local solutions for local families, not a one-size-fits-all approach.”

Community preschool collaboratives bring together important stakeholders – such as city and school leaders, parents, teachers and local businesses – who want to see high-quality preschool opportunities for families in their area. By bringing together local experts in early childhood education and pooling resources such as space, transportation and personnel, those collaboratives can offer affordable, comprehensive early learning opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t be available to many families.

It’s a model that has been successful across the country and is already utilized in several Idaho communities, including the Caldwell School District and the Basin School District, which includes Idaho City.

With the launch of Preschool the Idaho Way in October 2018, Idaho AEYC released an in-depth toolkit that guides communities through the process of creating local collaboratives and developing high-quality preschool opportunities. These grants will support the planning phase outlined in the toolkit. A second grant opportunity, for implementation of those plans, will open this fall.

Idaho is one of only four states in the country that does not currently invest in public preschool options. As a result, many families cannot afford or access early learning opportunities for their children.

“Too many of our children start school behind and never catch up,” Oppenheimer said. “Idaho simply cannot wait any longer to invest in its future, and families know that. We hope that as communities across Idaho prioritize preschool, state lawmakers will also recognize the value of focusing on the early years.” 

Preschool the Idaho Way is funded in part by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.