Grove City College accepted a $10,000 grant Friday, Sept. 22 from PNC Grow Up Great to work with Mercer County’s Success by Six collaborative to expand outreach to young children and families in the area.
The grant will help the College expand its annual Week of the Young Child event, which has been held each spring for the last 12 years. It brings children who will be entering and are enrolled in kindergarten and their families together for a free evening of age-appropriate, fun activities in the Physical Learning Center on campus.
“The vision is that through Grow Up Great funding we will be able to connect with other agencies in the region, such as PreK Counts, to extend the outreach beyond just our local families to the larger region to celebrate early childhood education and provide activities and information about education, health and wellness to families,” Dr. Constance N. Nichols ‘93, chair of the College’s Department of Education said. “We have these beautiful campus resources and great spaces that can accommodate large groups. It’s an opportunity and a responsibility for us to invest in our community’s youngest learners.”
Children and their families spend several hours enjoying music, storytelling, crafts, games, puzzles, puppet shows and healthy snacks with other children, teachers and volunteers, including Grove City College students, faculty and staff from the College’s Department of Education. Community organizations from around the region are also on hand to provide parents with practical information and resources on child health and development, afterschool care, services for children with special needs and more. Each family receives a free PNC-branded backpack with a book, flashcards and educational games.
College President Paul J. McNulty ’80 accepted the donation from Michael Balale, manager of the Grove City PNC branch, at the College’s Early Education Center, where Nichols and McNulty explained philanthropy to an audience of pre-school children.
McNulty thanked PNC for its efforts to help young children reach their potential through Success by Six, which is a collaboration between United Way of Mercer County, Head Start and 11 local school districts that began in 2004. “It is a blessing to have resources like this,” McNulty said.
Also on hand to thank PNC were Bill Gathers, Mercer County Success by Six coordinator, and James L. Micsky Jr., executive director of United Way of Mercer County. Julie Fertile, senior vice president of PNC Public Finance Group and Colleen Shaffer, vice president and relationship manager of PNC Public Finance Group, were also in attendance.
The six-week Success By Six program provides at-risk preschoolers who show academic need at kindergarten registration with 135 hours of academic instruction and socialization skills in a safe environment. Children who participate in early education programs are more likely to graduate high school, attain better jobs and have healthier lives.