This week’s CFO column in the Springfield News-Leader highlighted our crowdfunding platform, Cause Momentum; particularly, a project ending this week to raise funds to provide pre-school scholarships for the Every Child Promise initiative. You can read the column here; or visit the project site here. This Cause Momentum project has now exceeded its $12,000 goal, […]
Today’s segments of “Making a Difference Where You Live” on public radio station KSMU focus on the launch of the Every Child Promise project to make quality pre-school available for any four-year-old in Springfield. The CFO is one of the funders providing seed money for administrative costs and four pilot projects to start implementing the […]
Before a standing-room only audience at First Baptist Church Tuesday morning, Every Child Promise Co-chair Todd Parnell used his lecturn like a pulpit to deliver a heartfelt and convincing oration on why Springfield should support early childhood education.
It’s not just a social issue or a crime issue when kids start kindergarten without being ready for the rigors of the next 12 years of education. It’s about workforce development and economic development. The Every Child Promise is a quality of life promise and a humanitarian promise, said Parnell, who with his wife and Co-Chair Betty Parnell, has spent months leading more than 150 volunteers on five subcommittees to develop the strategic plan announced Tuesday.
The Every Child Promise states: “Our community promises to empower families, so that every child age birth to six has the opportunity to enter our schools ready to learn.”
“This promise is homegrown,” Parnell said. “This promise is consistent with treasured community values.
“Every parent and every child who wants access will be able to afford it. We’ll do it our way, the Springfield way.”
“Our way” is laid out in a series of strategic priorities, including four being implemented immediately. The three-year price tag for the first four priorities is $1.2 million, plus administrative expenses. The Community Foundation of the Ozarks is one of the seed funders to support the administrative process, along with CFO President Brian Fogle serving on the steering committee and Executive Vice President Julie Leeth co-chairing the Early Child Care Committee.
The four pilot project priorities include:
- Expanding the home-visiting program similar to the Parents as Teachers program with five additional parent educators for three years to serve 450-550 children per year.
- Implementing the Every Child Promise Scholarship Program to provide 50-60 kids with access to high-quality pre-kindergarten for three years.
- Creating a public/private Pre-K Educational partnership between Springfield Public Schools and a private provider.
- Creating a public/private Nutritional Food Partnership with Convoy of Hope to improve nutrition for food-insecure children.
The Every Child Promise steering committee is past the halfway point in raising the private funds needed to implement these initial priorities.
Every Child Advocate Dana Carroll encouraged the community to stay tuned for upcoming information on volunteer opportunities. She also said the committee is seeking community buy-in through a crowdfunding project to raise $12,000 to provide 10 scholarships for kids to access high-quality Pre-K programs. Contributions of any size can be made on the CFO’s crowdfunding platform at https://www.causemomentum.org/projects/every-child-promise.
The information is heartbreaking, enlightening and eye-opening when members of the CFO Funders Forum tour Springfield nonprofits to see how public and private dollars are used to address both the causes and effects of vexing social problems.Tuesday was no exception when the Funders Forum toured Shady Dell Early Childhood Center, Isabel’s House Crisis Nursery and then heard an overview of the 2013 Community Focus Report and the new strategic direction for The Kitchen’s services.
Even after working at Isabel’s House day in and day out, Executive Director Andrea Vent can’t help but tear up when she talks about some of the kids who live there for anywhere from a day to a month while their parents try to resolve the family crisis situations that lead them to seek this temporary respite care for their children. Families who become homeless, or face health crises and mothers and fathers who fear they might hurt their children if they don’t use this safety valve to release the massive pressures they are under.
Isabel’s House provides this refuge for as many as 20 kids up to age 12 from around the Springfield region. They give them baths and meals and fresh clothes and a blanket they can take with them when they leave. They take the school-age kids to school each morning to maintain a sense of routine and read stories to them each night, often multiple stories because many of the kids have trouble falling asleep away from their parents.