PA Kiwanis Early Learning Efforts
Updated November 25, 2015 from Executive Director Kevin Thomas
We continue to advocate, provide resources and educate for the benefit of the youngest children in Pennsylvania.
Partner with Early Learning Investment Commission
Kiwanis in Pennsylvania continues to work and partner with the Pennsylvania Early Learning Investment Commission as a strategic partner of the Commission. Kiwanis is represented at all state-wide Commission meetings and Commission members participate in many Kiwanis sponsored presentations. Commission members have joined Kiwanis and through the Commission, Kiwanis is well recognized in Pennsylvania State Government for its work in the area of Early Childhood Education and Development. At the annual commission meeting on October 10, 2014 the work of Kiwanis was featured prominently. While I will touch on our learning guides program shortly, our association with the Commission has brought us the program and strongly leveraged the dollars we have invested in the program. Kiwanis will be addressing a planning session of the Early Learning Investment Commission on September 18, 2015 and was represented at a meeting on Early Childhood Development of World business leaders on October 1, 2015.
Pennsylvania Kiwanis Sponsored Presentations
There have been 68 Kiwanis sponsored presentations across Pennsylvania including community symposiums in Bradford, Upper Bucks County and Meadville. The Bradford and Meadville presentations were attended by over 100 community members and were the impetus of 20 or more people joining Kiwanis. The most recent was held in Lebanon on July 23rd in conjunction with the Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce and had about 75 community members in attendance. And of course, we have helped organize a program in Erie on August 14, 2015 with 200 people in attendance.
Leadership with Kiwanis International
Because of our work and leadership in this area, Pennsylvania has been asked to provide leadership to the Kiwanis International World. In 2012-13, 2013-14 and again in 2014-15, I chaired the Kiwanis International Young Children Priority One Committee.
First Annual Kiwanis International Conference on Early Childhood Development Held
Additionally, the First Annual Kiwanis International Conference on Early Childhood Development, held in Louisville, Kentucky on April 15, 2013, was a Pennsylvania Kiwanis spearheaded effort as was the second conference which was in Indianapolis, Indiana on September 30, 2014 with over 150 people in attendance. Additionally, Kiwanis International is a signed supporter of the Strong Start Act, the first time Kiwanis International has signed on as a supporter of a piece of legislation.
Pennsylvania Kiwanis Members Continue to Read and Distribute Books
Kiwanis Clubs and Kiwanis members continue to read to children across Pennsylvania and distribute books. In the last 12 month period, over 800 Kiwanis members read to over 22,000 children.
Pennsylvania Kiwanis Continues Involvement in Advocacy
In the area of advocacy, over 100 Kiwanis Clubs wrote to their State Representatives and Senators during the latest State government budget debate expressing their support for the programs in the State budget that support quality early learning and development opportunities for young children. The good news here is that the Kiwanis efforts combined with the Early Learning Investment Commission and other groups and organizations across Pennsylvania helped procure funding increases for virtually all items in the state budget dealing with early development and learning.
Pennsylvania Kiwanis Club Partnering with Child Care Facilitates and Providers
Kiwanis Clubs are increasingly partnering with child care facilities and providers across the District; several clubs have “adopted” centers; some of the clubs which have been particularly proactive in this area include State College, Meadville, Nittany, Lewistown and Dillsburg.
Pennsylvania Kiwanians are asked to Support the Pre-K for PA Program
Kiwanians are, also, receiving information on and being asked to support the Pre-K for PA program, which would insure quality early education opportunities for all Pennsylvania Children. Kiwanis in Pennsylvania is a supporting organization for this campaign and recently joined the Pre-K for PA Leadership Council. Bill France, president of the Nittany club, is a co-chair of the efforts being conducted in Centre County. We held a Kiwanis for Pre-K Day at the State Capital on June 17, 2015.
Partnership with the Nurse Family Partnership Program and Other Ways of Involvement
We are, also, developing a partnership with the Nurse Family Partnership program, a highly effective early childhood intervention program. We are involved in efforts to advocate for their continued funding from the Federal government. District Young Children Priority One Chair Emily Reed will, also, be developing other ways our clubs and members can support the Nurse Family Partnership. The Penn Hills Kiwanis Club has provided active assistance to the Nurse Family Partnership in Allegheny County.
Distribution of Early Learning Guides
Finally but certainly not least, we continue to be involved in the distribution of the early learning guides, “Learning is Everywhere” and “Kindergarten Here I Come”. With the generous support of the Pennsylvania Kiwanis Foundation, Kiwanis Clubs and Kiwanians, we have funded and printed 145,000 guides and have distributed over 125,700 of those to Pennsylvania families. That means we have reached over 110,000 households across Pennsylvania with these important learning resources (that have the Kiwanis logos) at no cost to those families. As part of the guide inventory, we have recently added a 3rd guide, “Everyday I Learn Through Play”, which is intended for children from birth to age 2. We have reached into 56 of Pennsylvania’s 67 Counties with these guides. The 11 we have not reached are: Lawrence, Beaver, Washington, Greene, Cameron, Potter, Bedford, Fulton, Susquehanna, Wayne and Pike.
Learning is Everywhere Guide
A guide order form is here. It is worth noting the guides have been instrumental in helping to attract several people as members in the new club we are organizing in East Norriton.
Call to Action!
Click here for our Call to Action on Early Learning as well as the Key Club District’s Call to Action on early childhood development. Key Club recently adopted the program as their Youth Serving Youth project.
While we have enjoyed success with the guides and made a real impact, that program and our other efforts with early learning cannot continue without the financial support of Kiwanis Clubs and Kiwanians. We hope you and your club will consider making a pledge or donation; a pledge form is "here":
I am pleased to provide you this update. Five and one-half years ago, we were doing little in this area. Now we are helping to lead a movement. We should all feel proud of the difference we are making!
- Boosting investments in quality Early Childhood Education (EDE) would fill unmet need and promise high ROI Article
- Sign-Up for PA's Promise for Children E-mails here
- Join PA Promise for Children's Facebook Page here