Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Zane 

The Y Receives $1M to Reduce Equity Barriers in Early Childhood Education

Grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation


YMCA of the USA, the resource office for the nation's 2,700 YMCAs, has received a $1 million Early Childhood Equity Improvement Project grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in support of a project to address equity barriers that many young children face in the early years of their development.

The Y's ECEI project is an initiative where Y-USA works with local Ys who offer early childhood programs serving young children ages birth-to-five to elevate the quality of their early learning programs as well as increase access to help under-served populations.

The WKKF grant will help Y-USA work with eight Ys whose early childhood programs serve approximately 2,000 young learners. This work will identify effective, research-based kindergarten readiness and school transition strategies since both are critical milestones for young children. The Foundation's support will also allow the eight local Ys to deepen their partnership with families so that both can work meaningfully together to nurture each child's full potential. This work builds upon Y-USA's collaboration with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on the Early Childhood Equity Improvement Project. According to Kinah Harrison, program officer at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, this project will "address issues of equity and access to quality early childhood programs by ensuring kids are ready for kindergarten and families are supported through the school transition process."

"The Y engages 9 million children annually, and achieving early childhood equity means that all children, regardless of background, have access to high-quality early childhood programs and services," said Bela Moté, Y-USA's Vice President, Evidence-Based Youth Development Interventions. "Thanks to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, we have the opportunity to use the Y's national reach to find innovative ways to support children so they are ready for kindergarten as well partner more effectively with families."

The eight Y associations include:

YMCA of Greater Rochester (New York)

McGaw YMCA (Evanston, Illinois)

YMCA of Greater Louisville (Kentucky)

YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids (Michigan)

YMCA of Rapid City (South Dakota)

YMCA of Greater Erie (Pennsylvania)

YMCA of Columbia-Willamette (Portland, Oregon)

YMCA of San Diego County (California)

The ECEI project is part of the Y's ongoing efforts as a leading nonprofit dedicated addressing gaps in academic achievement among the nation's most disadvantaged youth. To learn more about the Y's commitment to youth development, visit

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 22 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.

Early learning should be accessible to all children.

About the W.K. 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, Michigan, 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. For more information, visit


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