Hope College has been awarded a $30,000 grant from the PNC Foundation to help provide school-readiness activities for preschoolers during the summer months.  PNC provided the funding in support of PNC Grow Up Great, its multi-year, $350 million, bilingual program in early childhood education.

The two-year grant is underwriting early-childhood enrichment summer sessions for about 40 children ranging from three to five years old.  Running from mid-July through early August, the sessions—taking place in two sections of 16 half days each during each of the two years—are being developed by the early-childhood program of the college’s Department of Education with an emphasis on providing opportunities to children who typically have fewer options and also preventing summertime learning loss.

“Our goal is to provide a summer enrichment program to a diverse group of children, especially children who attend Head Start and Great Start Readiness programs, who may not otherwise have an opportunity to attend summer programs,” said Patricia Griffin, assistant professor of education.

“Being ready for kindergarten is huge, and the oldest of the children will be attending kindergarten this fall,” she said.  “We’re very grateful to PNC for making the program possible.”

The $30,000 award from PNC is providing support both this summer and next.  Each of this year’s two sessions, for which registration is already complete, will run for 16 half-days and will feature activities that emphasize art, literacy, mathematics and the sciences.

Much of the learning will be interdisciplinary.  Lessons on the alphabet will also teach about food using the book “Eating the Alphabet: Fruits and Vegetables from A to Z” and a trip to the Holland Farmers Market.  The story “The Very Lonely Firefly” will explore friendship as well as a chance to learn about insects.  Opposites will be the focus of the bilingual story “Buenos Dias, Buenas Noches (Good Morning, Good Night),” while activities based on the book “How Many, How Many, How Many” will be related to early mathematics concepts.

The preschoolers will not only participate in activities on campus but will be able to keep the books they have been using so they can continue learning at home.

The young children won’t be the only ones learning.  Guided by Griffin, Hope education students will be leading and serving as assistants during the sessions.  The Department of Education at Hope prepares students to teach in elementary and secondary schools, and the college’s Comprehensive Elementary Major includes the opportunity to gain an Early Childhood Endorsement that reflects particular preparation to work with children from birth through age eight.  Hope education class include field placements and similar applied experiences, and the summer early-childhood sessions expand a smaller series of similar programs offered to young children and instructed by Hope students during the school year.

PNC grants are provided by the PNC Foundation, which receives its principal funding from The PNC Financial Services Group.  The PNC Foundation actively supports organizations that provide services for the benefit of communities in which it has a significant presence.  The foundation focuses its philanthropic mission on early childhood education and community and economic development, which includes the arts and culture.  Through Grow Up Great, its signature cause that began in 2004, PNC has created a $350 million, multi-year initiative to help prepare children from birth to age five for success in school and life.