The Y Receives $1M Grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to Expand Early Learning Readiness Initiative

Program supports school readiness; provides informal family, friend or neighbor caregivers with skills to enhance and support the learning experiences of children in their care

CHICAGO (Aug. 22, 2013) – YMCA of the USA (Y-USA), resource office for the nation’s 2,700 YMCAs, has received a $1 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to expand a pilot program to improve school readiness by enhancing the learning experiences of young children in informal child care settings.

For many low-income and newcomer/immigrants, a family member, friend or neighbor is the most common source of child care. According to a recent U.S. Census Bureau report, children 5 years old and under were more likely to be cared for by a relative (42 percent) than by a nonrelative (33 percent), while 12 percent were regularly cared for by both, and 39 percent had no regular child care arrangement1.

While family, friends and neighbors may provide safe and caring environments, these types of caregivers are often not trained in child development. The YMCA’s Early Learning Readiness Program for Informal Family, Friend and Neighbor Caregivers provides caregivers with the program elements, support and tools needed to enhance their role in children’s cognitive and emotional development. The grant from the Kellogg Foundation will support the implementation of the program at 19 YMCAs nationwide.

“The Y engages nearly 10 million children annually, and we work every day to give them the best possible chance to learn and reach their full potential,” said Neil Nicoll, Y-USA president and CEO. “Thanks to the Kellogg Foundation, we can help to transform the critically important developmental years for thousands of children who lack regular access to early learning opportunities and prepare them for greater success in school and life.” The Y’s Early Learning Readiness Program provides a preschool-like experience through planned learning centers that focus on supporting and developing the skills and confidence of caregivers, while improving school readiness among children. The program model includes biweekly meetings throughout the school year for both the caregivers and children at neighborhood locations such as Ys, community centers, libraries, schools and places of worship. Y staff and volunteers share information to help caregivers build their knowledge about how children learn and experience activities simple enough to be replicated at home.

“We are thrilled to be working with the Y on this important initiative because we share a common goal of improving school readiness of children who might otherwise start school at a disadvantage compared to their peers,” said Huilan Krenn, program officer, W.K. Kellogg Foundation. “Starting at birth, we must build the strongest pathways possible for educators, schools, communities and families. Effective teachers, even those who are informal, impact children for a lifetime. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation fully supports quality education for young children and equitable opportunity for caregivers.”

The Early Learning Readiness Program is one of three programs being piloted nationally by Y-USA as part of the nonprofit’s efforts to address gaps in academic achievement among the nation’s most disadvantaged youth. The Y is also piloting programs around afterschool enrichment and summer learning loss prevention. To learn more about the Y’s commitment to youth development, visit

1Who’s Minding the Kids? Child Care Arrangements: Spring 2011, U.S. Census Bureau, Issued April 2013:


About the Y The Y is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Across the U.S., 2,700 Ys engage 21 million men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. Anchored in more than 10,000 communities, the Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change.

About the Kellogg Foundation The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life. The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Mich., and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

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