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Last modified: Thursday, September 22, 2005

Early childhood education in Howard County gets $1.5 million boost

New bachelor's degree in early childhood education will be proposed at IUK

Sept. 22, 2005

KOKOMO, Ind. -- Indiana University Kokomo and the Community Foundation of Howard County have received a $1.5 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to create an early childhood education center at the IU Kokomo campus.

The award is one of 18 new Community Alliances to Promote Education grants, announced Sept. 21 by Lilly Endowment. Established in 1999, the CAPE initiative is aimed at boosting educational attainment throughout Indiana by helping individual counties address their areas' most compelling education needs.

The early childhood education center at IUK will work with educators in pre-school through grade 12 (P-12), childcare providers, families and libraries to promote best practices in preparing youngsters to enter kindergarten.

"I'm incredibly thrilled that we have been chosen to receive a CAPE grant from Lilly Endowment," said IUK Chancellor Ruth J. Person. "It is especially exciting because it is a result of a collaborative effort between the Community Foundation of Howard County and Indiana University Kokomo."

The $1.5 million grant, which will be received over the next five years, provides "an exceptional opportunity to make a real difference for Howard County," said Community Foundation President Ron Harper. "We have known for a long time that there is a really significant gap in the number of students who show up for kindergarten and fail to meet the basic measures that show they are ready to learn," he said.

Many children lack primary skills, such as being able to recognize letters, numbers and colors, and catching up with their more prepared classmates becomes "almost impossible" for some, Harper added. "If students don't learn certain literacy and numeracy skills by the time they are in third grade, they generally fall behind progressively faster," he said.

Such students often disengage from the education system, seek out other "poor performers" as social peers, and may turn to antisocial behaviors, he said. "In Howard County, we cannot afford to lose that productivity for our citizens or our workforce."

IU Kokomo Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Stuart Green said the early childhood education center could start operations as soon as spring 2006.

"We envision the center as a place where faculty expertise can interact with and support community needs and goals," he said. "Although IU Kokomo will operate the center, it will be a true partnership, engaging our colleagues in P-12 education, area public libraries and our children's first teachers -- their parents."

Administrators at IU Kokomo also will send a proposal for a new bachelor of science degree in early childhood education to the IU Board of Trustees in November. The proposal for a new degree in early childhood education, said Green, "resonates with the concerns and goals of the CAPE grant. IU Kokomo students in this degree program, as well as Ivy Tech State College students in its associate degree in early childhood program, will be extensively involved in grant activities."

The Indiana University Foundation will administer the CAPE grant. A permanent endowment of $300,000 will be established for center operations, with the Community Foundation serving as the endowment's custodian. The Community Foundation will also be represented on a local advisory board for the center.

For more information about early childhood education opportunities through Indiana University Kokomo, contact Stuart Green at or 765-455-9227.