Endeavor Foundation announced Thursday (Dec. 18) a commitment of up to $5 million to support efforts that expand access to high quality early childhood education, improve community health through increased availability of trained internal medicine specialists, and support a healthy, active lifestyle with the addition of Razorback Regional Greenway trail amenities.
Building on the $2.9 million investment made earlier this year to expand Arkansas Better Chance (ABC) Pre-K programs for 200 new children, Endeavor is now committing an additional $4 million to bring ABC to 240 more preschoolers, including one-time grants for start-up costs such as furnishings, learning tools, and classroom renovation.
Endeavor will also award approximately $800,000 to support 280 students enrolled in existing ABC programs. In total, this brings the Foundation’s investment to nearly $8 million through 2018, impacting the lives and future of more than 700 children from low-income families across the region. Specific grantees will be announced in early 2015.
“The Foundation is proud of its commitment to both maintain and expand high quality early childhood education in Northwest Arkansas, and to advance a bold vision toward helping to support the more than 4,000 children in high-need families that do not have access to Pre-K programs,” said Anita Scism, president and CEO of Endeavor Foundation. “State funding for Pre-K has remained flat since 2008, meaning that unless private dollars are invested, the increasing demand for Pre-K will not be met, and we will continue to fail our children at a time in their lives when learning is a critical determinant of future success,” Scism added.
Beyond systemic change in the area of education, Endeavor is also committed to addressing root causes behind inadequate access to health care in our communities. A $200,000 grant to University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Northwest (UAMS Northwest) will support the continued development of an Internal Medicine Residency program poised to receive accreditation in late 2015. This program will create a pipeline of eight trained residents per year, with a goal of retaining at least 60 percent of the new internal medicine doctors in Northwest Arkansas.
“Internal medicine is the number one primary care need in Northwest Arkansas, largely because of the broad spectrum of acute symptoms and chronic diseases which internists are specially trained to treat,” stated Dr. Peter Kohler, Vice Chancellor, UAMS Northwest. “As a result of this important resident training program, UAMS expects to substantially reduce the shortage of internal medicine specialists in Northwest Arkansas in the very near term, resulting in improved economic and health outcomes, and lower overall costs of care.”
An additional health and wellness grant in the amount of $40,734 was awarded to the Northwest Arkansas Council Foundation to provide access to drinking water via the installation of water fountains at three mile intervals along the entire Razorback Regional Greenway. This project will promote and facilitate proper hydration along the trails, which is critical to a healthy, active lifestyle.