Recipients of the Strong Start for Kindergarten Prize announced

Selected submissions demonstrated innovative solutions for improving the transition from early learning to kindergarten

Early Learning Indiana today announced recipients of a $100,000 prize focused on identifying innovative ideas to ensure Hoosier children move effectively into the kindergarten classroom. The Strong Start for Kindergarten Prize competition was a new initiative funded by Indiana’s Preschool Development Grant.

A smooth transition into kindergarten creates a foundation for children to build upon throughout the rest of their K-12 journey. Programs that encourage family engagement and strengthen the connective experience between pre-K and K-12 set the stage for continued social and emotional growth and academic attainment in elementary education and beyond.

“A child’s first days and weeks in a kindergarten classroom can set the stage for school success in the following years,” Early Learning Indiana President and CEO Maureen Weber said. “Whether they help children feel comfortable in new school settings, build links from pre-K to elementary teachers or give families support during the transition, each of the promising practices shared by winners of the Strong Start for Kindergarten Prize really tackle this important moment.”

Early Learning Indiana received 55 entries from school districts, early learning providers and non-profit community organizations representing 24 Indiana counties. Submissions for the Strong Start for Kindergarten prize were evaluated on their correlation to national research on early learning, ability to demonstrate measurable outcomes, and potential for replication in other Indiana communities. The nine recipients of the prize will be awarded $5,000 to $25,000 in recognition of their high-impact kindergarten transition programs.

The recipients are:

  • School City of Hobart’s Building Brickies, Hobart
  • United Way of Allen County, Fort Wayne
  • Portage Township YMCA, Portage
  • United Way of Porter County, Valparaiso
  • Pace Community Action Agency, Vincennes
  • Lewis Cass Schools, Walton
  • Perry Township School District Preschool, Indianapolis
  • Johnson County Learning Center, Greenwood
  • Indiana University Campus Children’s Center, Bloomington

“These awards are a great example of the impact the preschool development grant funding is having in Indiana,” said Nicole Norvell, director of Indiana’s Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning. “It is important that we recognize and reward local communities for working together to ensure that students have a successful transition into kindergarten. This allows us to learn about these examples of excellence so that they can be replicated to help create a roadmap for how all young learners can begin their K-12 experience with as much support as needed.”

Early Learning Indiana will share both the Strong Start for Kindergarten winning practices and the results of their national landscape review of effective practices later this year.