United Way of Northwest Arkansas is supporting childhood education initiatives with a $296,000 grant to the Helen R. Walton Children’s Enrichment Center in Bentonville, the center announced on Wednesday (June 7).
“Working with local nonprofit organizations like the Helen R. Walton Children’s Enrichment Center and making strategic investments at critical points in a child’s life, the United Way expects to propel a child along a path of prosperity that ultimately lifts a child permanently out of poverty,” Kim Aaron, United Way of Northwest Arkansas president, said in a press release.
The funding will go toward four programs, including the Northwest Arkansas regional program of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, a national organization that provides children one book each month from birth to age 5.
The funding will also go toward scholarships for early childhood education — six children living in situational poverty will attend a program for free — training for early childhood education professionals and leadership training for administrators and directors of early childhood education programs, according to the press release.
“United Way of Northwest Arkansas has partnered with us to provide professional development for the early childhood center director and teacher, resources for the family, and high quality early education for the child,” Michelle Barnes, executive director Helen Walton Children’s Enrichment Center, said in the press release. “This comprehensive approach lays a solid foundation that empowers a child to permanently move out of the crisis of poverty.”
According to the release, “Research shows that when a child receives just one year of high quality early childhood education, they are less likely to require remediation in school, three times more likely to graduate high school and more likely to pursue post-secondary education as well as become higher income earners as adults,” according to the release.