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Early Childhood Education Program Expands with Support from Cuyahoga County, The PNC Foundation and The George Gund Foundation



Media Contacts:
Nicole Dailey Jones: (216) 263-4602, (216)338-0863 or ndjones@cuyahogacounty.us
Magda Gomez: (216) 443-6583 or mgomez@cuyahogacounty.us
Kelly Wagner Amen: (216) 222-9514 or kelly.wagneramen@pnc.com
David Abbott: (216) 241-3114 or dabbott@gundfdn.org

Grants of $1.3 Million to Enhance Kindergarten Readiness for Local Children

CLEVELAND, April 11, 2011 – Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald announced today significant support for local high-quality early childhood education through $1.3 million in grants from The PNC Foundation and The George Gund Foundation to expand the County’s signature pre-kindergarten program.

The PNC Foundation, which receives its principal funding from The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., is providing a $300,000 grant for Starting Point, the lead agency to the Universal Pre-kindergarten (UPK) Program offered through Cuyahoga County’s Invest in Children program. Additionally, The George Gund Foundation will award $1 million to Invest in Children, targeted for UPK.

“The funding from PNC and The George Gund Foundation illustrates the power of the public and private sectors coming together to help further the county’s early childhood education and the UPK program,” said FitzGerald. “This is our call to action. We are hoping that others will answer it.”

Invest in Children, which created and administers the UPK Program, is Cuyahoga County’s nationally recognized public/private partnership focused on improving the lives of young children ages birth -6 and their families in Cuyahoga County.

Further emphasizing their commitment to early childhood education, FitzGerald announced that he and Paul Clark, PNC regional president, Northern Ohio, will co-chair Invest in Children’s Partnership Committee, an advisory group comprised of both public and private sector leaders.

“PNC recognizes the role kindergarten readiness plays in the health of local children, their families and ultimately, our economy,” said Clark, speaking on behalf of The PNC Foundation. “By preparing our youngest citizens for educational success, we help build a solid foundation for the future of this region. We are hopeful other corporate partners will join the growing list of supporters of this critical work."

The PNC Foundation grant aligns with the organization’s signature philanthropic focus on preparing children for success in school and life. PNC has awarded more than $2.5 million in grants in Cleveland over the past two years through PNC Grow Up Great, its 10-year, $100 million initiative to improve early childhood education. The grant to Starting Point will expand upon the programming offered at the 23 sites it serves, adding additional student and parent education and engagement programs, continuing education opportunities for educators and assistance to UPK classrooms.

FitzGerald added, “Before I was elected, I pledged to work with corporate, community, state, federal, and education partners towards the full phase-in of the UPK implementation plan to ensure that all of Cuyahoga County’s children enter school ready to succeed. PNC and The George Gund Foundation have joined in that commitment today, and it is our hope that other community partners will join in as well.”

“Cuyahoga County needs to be known far and wide as a place where children can thrive. With today’s action, the County and PNC demonstrate a true community ethic of caring for our children and their future. We are proud to join with them in this partnership to invest in the potential of our youngest citizens,” said Cathy Lewis, trustee of The George Gund Foundation. The foundation provided initial support to help launch the UPK pilot program in 2008.

Currently in its fourth year of operation, an independent evaluation of Cuyahoga County’s UPK Program conducted by Case Western Reserve University demonstrated that the program is making a positive impact on the 1,000 children it serves, preparing them to succeed in school. A number of studies done by noted economists have documented that high quality programs, such as UPK have a very significant long term economic return of between 4% and 16% on the initial program investment for every dollar invested, making it an excellent investment of both public and private dollars. The program is primarily funded with Cuyahoga County health and human service levy dollars.

The PNC Foundation, which receives its principal funding from The PNC Financial Services Group (NYSE: PNC), actively supports organizations that provide services for the benefit of communities in which it has a significant presence. The foundation focuses its philanthropic mission on early childhood education and community and economic development, which includes the arts and culture. Through its signature cause, Grow Up Great, PNC has created a 10-year, $100 million initiative to enhance early childhood education and school readiness.

The George Gund Foundation was established in 1952 by George Gund, former chairman of the Cleveland Trust Company. The Foundation funds programs that enhance our understanding of the physical and social environment in which we live and increase our ability to cope with its changing requirements.