(StatePoint) Studies have shown that high-quality pre-K education better prepares children to achieve in school and makes them more likely to strive for higher vocational aspirations. It also has a positive impact on society. For every dollar spent on high-quality early education, society gains as much as $13 in long-term savings, according to a 2016 study by Nobel Laureate, James Heckman.
“Too many teachers struggle to access essential classroom resources,” says Sally McCrady, chair and president of PNC Foundation. “Luckily, it’s easier than ever to get involved in supporting local efforts to help pre-K teachers and their classrooms and students.”
Large-scale efforts are being made to help more teachers, classrooms and children get the resources they need, such as science kits, books, art supplies and field trips. One example of this is a $5 million alliance between the PNC Foundation and DonorsChoose.org, a crowd-funding platform whereby teachers request the materials and experiences they need most for their classrooms, and donors can give to the vetted projects that inspire them.
Any person interested in helping pre-K teachers can access DonorsChoose.org and donate to a project.
“Though teachers often spend their own money on classroom supplies, they still need many more resources to provide a well-rounded, high-quality learning experience,” says Yasmina S. Vinci, executive director, National Head Start Association (NHSA), a not-for-profit advocacy organization dedicated to supporting the Head Start community.
The four major initiatives of this alliance include:
• Match Funding: From now through May 31, 2018, PNC will match, dollar-for-dollar, donations made within its service area that support public pre-K and Head Start teachers’ project requests listed on DonorsChoose.org, with some restrictions. The duration of the match campaign depends on the number of project requests and donations. For specific guidelines on the match offer, visit DonorsChoose.org/pnc.
• Teacher Gift Cards: Every teacher who submitted a pre-K project request in the PNC footprint since April 4, 2017 received a $100 electronic gift card to be used on DonorsChoose.org. More than 3,700 public pre-K and Head Start teachers received the cards to support new projects.
• Spotlight: One outstanding early education teacher in most PNC markets has been honored as a Teacher Hero for his or her efforts and involvement in the alliance. All honorees received a $2,000 gift card to fund a project in their classrooms and a second $2,000 gift card to help seed other pre-K projects listed on DonorsChoose.org.
• PNC Volunteer Gift Cards: All PNC employees who volunteered for the early education initiative Grow Up Great in 2017 will receive a $50 electronic gift card to support pre-K project requests on DonorsChoose.org.
These resources are already having real-world impacts. Last year’s campaign enabled nearly 244,000 preschool children across 21 states and the District of Columbia to receive new classroom materials and educational opportunities. More than 7,500 pre-K classroom projects benefited from the grant, which was made in support of PNC Grow Up Great, its $350 million early childhood education initiative. Teachers and donors can visit PNCGrowUpGreat.com/donorschoose for more information.
“Because of these efforts, we can introduce our children to more activities and opportunities to learn more skills,” says Chicago pre-K teacher, Denise Lopez-Gill. “The supplies that I have received have transformed our classroom environment.”