How One Kansas School District Won $5 Million in Early Childhood Education Grants by Julie Assel, GPC

School districts across the country welcome students who exhibit a wide range of school readiness when they enter kindergarten. Schools then have four years, kindergarten through third grade, to teach their students to read. By fourth grade, schools use reading as a tool to learn instead of as a focused subject. Without a strong foundation in reading, students can quickly and easily fall behind in other subjects.

In areas where poverty level is high and literacy level is low, education professionals and many families would like their students to benefit from additional time to learn and strengthen fundamental reading skills through early childhood programs. In Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools (KCKPS), the superintendent turned to educational grant writing services in order to provide universal Pre-K for more than 2000 students residing within her district’s boundaries.

The question was how. The state did not provide the same kind of reimbursement rate as they did for kindergarten through grade twelve, and parents couldn’t afford to pay fees for their children to gain access to Pre-K education programs.

The superintendent worked with Assel Grant Services to braid together multiple funding sources, including education program grants to enroll 570 students in early childhood services. The district already had funding from Parents as Teachers and early childhood special education funding, as well as funding to help migrant students and families who do not speak English as their first language. The state provided limited funding for four-year olds through the Kansas Preschool Program and State Pre-K because they were the closest to starting kindergarten. But in the KCKPS this still was not enough to meet the need for all four-year olds. Plus, three-year olds were left out entirely of early childhood education.

With help from Assel Grant Services, the district applied for and was awarded an Early Childhood Block Grant from the Kansas Children’s Trust Fund. This helped, but still did not reach the superintendent’s goal secure of universal Pre-K for all district students.

To fill the gap, KCKPS continued to work with Assel Grant Services, successfully competing for federal government Head Start funding. This funding doesn’t only provide educational services, but also it provides health, mental health, nutritional, and oral health services for 878 students. Both full-day and part-day services with year-round options are made available to meet the needs of working families in the community.

Now, 1,062 KCKPS children, ranging in age between three and five years old, receive early childhood services through the following programs: Parents as Teachers, Migrant Family Literacy, Early Childhood Special Education, Early Childhood Block Grant, State Pre-K, and the Kansas Preschool Program. In neighboring school districts, Turner USD #202 serves 68 state Pre-K children and Piper USD #203 serves 8 state Pre-K children. Successful Beginnings in Wyandotte County currently serves 878 of the 1,018 children, not currently enrolled in other school district early childhood programs in the county.

When you’re seeking early childhood education grants, education program grants, and preschool grants, contact Assel Grant Services to learn how we can help you find and apply for a variety of grant funding opportunities for early childhood education in your community.

GPC Competency 1: Knowledge of how to research, identify, and match funding resources to meet specific needs.  Skill 2: Identify major trends in private grant funding.

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