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PNC invests in program to help prepare kids for school

The PNC Foundation has given $105,155 to the YMCA’s Parents as Teachers program to help parents in 25 Charlotte households better prepare children ages 1 to 3 for school and decrease dropout rates.

YMCA officials will partner with the Bethlehem Center in west Charlotte to administer the program, which will provide monthly home visits from a certified parent educator to ensure children in the households are prepared for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten.

Families served by the program must have children currently on the waiting list for Head Start, the federally funded preschool program.

Parents as Teachers is based on a national curriculum that provides encouragement and help to struggling parents of preschoolers, including monthly group meetings and referrals to outside agencies. Program activities also include developmental screenings and age-appropriate activities.

Studies have shown that half of the nation’s high school dropouts were already behind in their education when they entered kindergarten.

“At the Y, we believe that a parent is the child’s first and most influential teacher,” said a statement from Pilar Perez, Parents as Teachers program director for Charlotte’s YMCA. “The Parents as Teachers model provides … encouragement parents need to build a strong foundation for their child’s success in school.”

The PNC Foundation gets its money largely from the PNC Financial Services Group. The bank’s Charlotte donation is part of Grow Up Great, a $350 million, multiyear, bilingual initiative to help prepare children younger than 5 for academic success.

The Bethlehem Center serves more than 900 children, youths and seniors annually, including help through early childhood education and after-school programs.

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