Community Foundation announces $300K+ for early childhood education, seen as ‘such a need’ –

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EBENSBURG, Pa. – The Community Foundation for the Alleghenies is providing $318,750 this year to help organizations that address educational, social and health needs of children in Cambria and Somerset counties.

The foundation recognized the eight recipients of the grant money, awarded through its Early Childhood Education Fund initiative, at a press conference Thursday at Treasured Times Learning Center in Ebensburg.

“We see it as such a need, not just for the little ones who are learning, but for their families,” CFA Associate Director Angie Berzonski said.

The largest grant of $100,000 went to Cambria County Child Development Corp. for its Preschool Without Walls and Brighter Shining STARS programs. Those initiatives will provide learning opportunities for eligible low- income children at Treasured Times Learning Center, Building Blocks Learning Center and Morrell Neighborhood School.

CCCDC will use the money for curriculum, tuition assistance, materials, equipment and staff development.

“It means a great deal to us,” CCCDC Executive Director Christina Baughman said. “Child care has been on the burner for a while now. They’re listening. The Community Foundation (for the Alleghenies) is listening to our needs. That helps.”

Other grants were awarded to:

• The Learning Lamp ($75,450) to implement a pilot program designed to boost staff wages and return its largest center to full staffing and enrollment.

• Flood City Youth Fitness Academy ($55,000) for expanding early learning classroom space for children ages 5 to 8.

• United Way of the Southern Alleghenies ($35,500) for an Early Childhood Coordinator Initiative.

• The YWCA ($20,800) to support its Kuddle Korner early learning facility.

• Small Town Hope Inc. ($18,500) for a Small Town Connections program.

• Beginnings Inc. ($7,500) for its Building Creative Foundations for Early Learning Project.

• Laurel Arts ($6,000) for a Studio Kids Scholarship program.

The fund was developed as part of a strategic plan by the CFA, United Way, the 1889 Foundation and other agencies to focus on improving local childhood education.

“We’re very excited to have something that provides our community, our schools, our after-school programs, basically a very holistic approach to bringing together anybody that has anything to do with early learning and child care,” said Karen Struble Myers, president and CEO of United Way of the Southern Alleghenies.

The fund was seeded with a $7.5 million anonymous donation. CFA is also looking for more contributions to help bolster the program.

“As you might imagine, our goal is to raise money,” CFA President Mike Kane said. “Our goal is to grow that endowment so we can provide ever more resources in this field.”

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