Helios Invests Nearly $1 Million In Early Childhood Education in Arizona and Florida

Posted on: July 27, 2010

With the ages of birth to five being the most critical stage in the growth and development of young children, Helios Education Foundation is investing close to $1 million in three early childhood education (ECE) initiatives that will expose children to positive learning environments and provide high quality training for ECE teachers in Arizona and Florida.

The Foundation is awarding Childsplay and Paradise Valley Community College (both in Arizona) and the Early Learning Coalition of Polk County, Florida with funding for ECE teacher professional development programs that, over time, will help teachers better understand how children learn to read and develop vocabulary.

With limited professional development opportunities available for ECE teachers, especially around how children acquire language and literacy skills, Helios initiated a request for proposals (RFP) process, making dollars available to fund targeted teacher professional development programs. Over 100 organizations with a focus on early care engaged in the process and of that number, 37 applied for funding. Applications were reviewed, with Childsplay, Paradise Valley Community College and the Early Learning Coalition of Polk County ultimately meeting the Foundation's RFP funding requirements.

"Although we knew there was a need for high quality teacher professional development programs for early care providers in Arizona and Florida, that need became even more clear to us early on in the RFP process just by the overwhelming response we received and by the programmatic substance in those proposals," said Helios Education Foundation President and CEO Paul Luna. "We're excited to be making this commitment to early childhood education in both states because investing in the early years helps lay the academic foundation our students need in order to succeed across the education continuum."

About the Projects
Early Learning Coalition (ELC) of Polk County - $497,608
The ELC of Polk County, in partnership with the Early Learning Coalition in Manatee and Sarasota counties in Florida will offer professional development to the family child care home community. While working, many parents choose to have their children in a child care program offered in a home setting versus an early childhood center. The family child care home practitioner is often the only adult providing care and education to the children which in turn limits the opportunities for participating in professional development opportunities and networking with other early childhood professionals. This project identifies strategies to address and minimize professional development challenges faced by the early childhood practitioner working in a licensed family child care home by providing intensive onsite coaching to improve the understanding, skill level, and teaching practices of the practitioner related to early language and literacy development for children ages birth to five.

Paradise Valley Community College, Phoenix, Arizona - $327,302
Paradise Valley Community College, in partnership with Central Arizona College will update and unify language and early literacy coursework for early childhood practitioners and educators. This will be accomplished through academic college courses, an analysis of related community based trainings and the creation of early childhood programs that demonstrate best practices in building the knowledge and skills of the early childhood professional. Participating early childhood professionals will improve age appropriate, interactive learning activities for the child aged birth to five focused on early language and literacy development.

Childsplay, Tempe, Arizona - $115,036
Capitalizing on its 30 plus years of experience in using theatre as a medium to engage children and adults, this project outlines strategies to adapt an existing research-based model of delivering professional development for the early childhood environment. The program will work with early childhood teachers and practitioners to integrate drama strategies, writing/reading curricula, and provide job-embedded professional development that uses creative drama and dramatic play for early language and literacy development for children in early childhood programs. The work will occur over 18 months in collaboration with the Arizona State University School of Theater within the Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts.

Category: Early Grade Success

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