The Community Foundation - Rochester Area The Community Foundation

Early Childhood

Twenty years ago, one of every five first graders in the Rochester City School District was failing.

In response, the Community Foundation launched a drive to improve the quantity, quality, and accessibility of Rochester preschool programs. Now our pre-K system is the best in the US and Western Europe.

“The Community Foundation raised the issue and importance of early childhood education in the 1980s, inspiring community leaders…to become involved…Today ours is one of the highest quality early childhood the nation.”  –Jacque Cady, Chair, Early Childhood Development Initiative

How did it happen? We organized a coalition of providers, private funders, government officials, child advocates, business leaders, and others to tackle the issue. We helped set community standards, develop priorities, and create a sophisticated evaluation system. We funded, and continue to fund, agencies working to strengthen the early childhood sector.

Among the impressive results: data on 2,700 children in 162 classrooms show that despite Rochester’s high and growing poverty rate, participants finish preschool ahead of expectations – socially, academically, and physically.  First-graders test higher in reading and math than their peers in other high poverty area school districts.

"Children, young people, are 33 percent of the population but 100 percent of our future." - Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks

Currently, our early childhood grants support projects that lead to better public policy, evaluation, public awareness and dialogue, service delivery, and training or technical assistance, as well as leveraging significant other support. We also helped fund a 2007 study of child care subsidies, leading Monroe County to raise reimbursement rates to providers. And we funded a new accreditation system being developed by Children’s Institute.

Now we’re seeking to replicate our success with older students, by supporting quality improvements in after-school programs. For the critical period from birth to age three, we support programs to help parents and caregivers assist young children. And we’re working with other community leaders to address pressing problems facing children in city schools.

Learn More: 
Center for Governmental Research 
RCSD Pre-K Program

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