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The room is brightly lit and smells of colored pencil shavings. Ten little bodies fidget quietly on a circular rug. They are all ready to move from circle time to select their “work” for the day. As the teacher claps her hands the children jump up from the rug and rush towards the small wooden tables covered with brightly colored plastic trays. Each tray holds the promise of a different learning experience. Some kids slosh brushes into paint, others drag their fingers through sand while they shape letters, some quietly cut shapes.  Each child seems excited to discover and play in a classroom full of choice.

Quality early educational experiences like these form the foundation of the Preschool Promise Program. A pilot program unfolding across Lane County that strives to increase the number of low-income children who have access to quality learning environments, Preschool Promise represents the collaborative commitment of United Way, the Lane Early Learning Alliance, Family Connections of Lane and Douglas Counties, and a number of partners across the community committed to helping children.

With funding from the state of Oregon and a strong foundation in early education best practices, Preschool Promise opened 175 opportunities for kids between the ages of 3 to 5 at high-quality preschools. The program centers around the philosophy that families should be able to choose the setting that works best for their children and family. From culturally responsive environments and inclusive programming to well-educated teachers working to engage parents, the program builds a comprehensive learning environment that can create lasting benefits.

Recent research shows that quality early education has a huge ripple effect on the future success of children, their families, and communities. Investing in early education has been shown to be the most cost-effective way to close the opportunity gap and improve long-term outcomes for children. *  High-quality preschool environments can help set kids up for success before they start kindergarten. Working to help children enter school ready to learn is a critical component of the community building work happening in Lane County.

At United Way, we understand that investing in early education supports our children, their families, and our collective future.  The moments created in that brightly lit classroom connect children to the skills they need to thrive.

“It is a pleasure to arrive each day to work and see each and every child ready to learn, ready to sing, and ready to do daily activities. It is lovely to hear a child say ‘I love doing this’ whether it is tracing and practicing a letter to sitting down for group to sing their favorite song or participate in group discussions,” says a teacher at Little Wonders Preschool.

Investing in the programs that create these moments is building the future of our community. It’s work we at United Way are proud to be a partner in.

Learn more about Preschool Promise and how to get involved.

Find out if your child is eligible for Preschool Promise.