PNC Gives YSU $150K for Early Learning Academy

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Beeghly College of Education at Youngstown State University has been awarded a two-year, $150,000 grant from the PNC Foundation to develop the Early Learning Academy.

PNC as part of its Grow Up Great initiative to help prepare children from birth to age five for success in school and life. The YSU Early Learning Academy will conduct 12 professional development and educational workshops every Saturday for more than 100 area preschool instructors, specifically those working with low- to moderate-income populations.

“Research supports that lower-income children are at higher risk of entering school with a deficiency in early vocabulary and literary development, foundational math concepts and social skills needed for academic success, when compared to their higher-income peers,” said YSU’s Kristen Italiano in a statement. 

Italiano is a faculty member and director of Project Pass, a collaboration between the university and Youngstown City Schools that sends education students into the school district.

The academy will use research-based practices that align with community needs to support early learning for the most at-risk and underserved children in the community. The academy will provide strategies and instruction to teachers for improving school readiness, increasing language development and creating a socially supportive, safe environment.

Each participant will receive materials and toolkits to take into the classroom. Sessions will be taught in the McKay Auditorium in Beeghly Hall on campus by Lauren Cummins and Patrick O’Leary, as well as other qualified faculty and instructors. 

“By supporting the needs of preschool instructors, we can work as a community to close the achievement gaps and prepare all preschools for success in elementary school,” said Charles Howell, dean of the Beeghly College, in a statement. 

The PNC Foundation focuses its philanthropic mission on early childhood education and community and economic development, which includes the arts and culture.

“For years, PNC has supported pre-K education in Youngstown through a variety of programs,” said Ted Schmidt, PNC regional president for Youngstown, in a statement. “Through the Early Learning Academy, we will build on those efforts.” 

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.