As needs and opportunities arise in Monroe County, the Community Foundation is poised to help our community respond to its most pressing needs and to seize it’s most compelling opportunities.  While competitive granting from over 200 funds often serves as the vehicle for addressing areas of urgency or opportunity, the Community Foundation Board may also elect to provide proactive funding in areas of particular significance to our community.  Currently, the Community Foundation, while still offering funding through competitive granting in a broad range of focus areas, is providing focused leadership in early childhood education.  Over time our pool of flexible resources will allow us to address different areas as community needs dictate.

Early Childhood Education – Monroe Smart Start

In 2007, Monroe Smart Start began as a coalition of educators, parents, business leaders, and others focusing on children’s’ first five years of life and the importance of quality early learning opportunities for school readiness. After a thorough analysis of early childhood opportunities in our community, it became clear to the Community Foundation that Monroe County did not have the resources necessary to provide early childhood education to the populations that are most in need of support. The Community Foundation has been working on building our capacity as a community to prepare our children for success in school and life. According to the data, investing in early childhood education:

  • Reduces special education and retention rates by one-third or more
  • Increases high school completion rates by 15%
  • Results in increased earnings potential of 60% throughout life

Today, Monroe Smart Start is a leadership initiative of the Community Foundation working on behalf of our community’s youngest learners. Since 2009, the Community Foundation has invested more than $1.2 million in early childhood education initiatives. 

Programs supported under this initiative have included:

  • Funding to establish tuition-free preschools in all Monroe County Community School Corporation Title I elementary schools: Arlington Heights, Fairview, Grandview, Highland Park, Summit and Templeton.
  • Funding for Preschool Parent Liaisons for Monroe County Community School Corporation and Richland-Bean Blossom Community School Corporation to support children and families with opportunities that facilitate learning through engagement activities and events.
  • Educational funding for local early childhood educators to increase levels in Paths to QUALITY, Indiana’s child care quality rating and improvement system. Since 2013, 28 early childhood sites have participated in the Cohorts of Quality Providers, affording over 500 children higher quality child care.
  • Capacity grant funding to local early childhood sites who serve low-income families. By increasing capacity, more children receive quality, early learning opportunities to better prepare them for school and life.
  • Early Education Matching Grant participant assisting 20 children to attend a high-quality, tuition-free Pre-K classroom in Monroe County Community School Corporation.
  • Monroe Smart Start’s Let’s Read, a literacy outreach program at IU Riley Health locations that provides over 8,000 children and families appropriate age level books along with helpful literacy and developmental guide sheets for families during wellness exams.

Watch video below to learn more about our early childhood initiative.

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