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$1 Million Donation Funds New Pinellas Early Literacy Initiative

$1 Million Donation Funds New Pinellas Early Literacy Initiative

Photographed from left to right: Caprice Edmond, Pinellas County School Board member; Charles Hokanson, Sr. VP of Strategic Engagement and Community Partnership of Helios Education Foundation; Stacy Baier, CEO of Pinellas Education Foundation; Dr. Michael Grego, Superintendent of Pinellas County Schools; Charles Harris, board chair of Pinellas Education Foundation; Robert Byelick, treasurer, Pinellas Education Foundation.

The Pinellas Education Foundation is proud to announce the launch of the Pinellas Early Literacy Initiative. This four-year collaboration with Pinellas County Schools (PCS) will support teachers and leaders, who are preparing students to be ready for kindergarten and proficient readers by 3rd grade. The initiative involves teachers and leaders from Pinellas County Schools and public and private providers of Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK).

To make programs like this possible, it takes a generous spirit and innovative direction. We are grateful for the generosity of the Helios Education Foundation for investing $1 million in the Pinellas Early Literacy Initiative. The Pinellas Education Foundation is committing an additional $500,000 toward this initiative generously supported by the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, Consortium of Florida Education Foundations, Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg, and the Riley Education Foundation – bringing the total philanthropic investment to $1.5 million.

Through the Pinellas Early Literacy Initiative, school-based teams of principals, assistant principals, and teachers in PreK and elementary school settings will participate in a monthly literacy cohort, Communities of Practice, led by the University of Florida’s Lastinger Center to implement evidence-based literacy instruction from the Instruction and Intervention modules. Teachers will be receiving coaching support throughout the process as well.

The participating elementary schools for the 2021-22 school year are:

  • Melrose Elementary School
  • Fairmount Park Elementary School
  • Sandy Lane Elementary School
  • Lakewood Elementary School
  • Campbell Park Elementary School
  • Maximo Elementary School
  • Lealman Avenue Elementary School
  • High Point Elementary School

Additionally, five community-based PreK centers are participating. The schools are: Headstart programs at Connie Mammaro Center, Jordan Park Center and High Point Center, as well as private early education providers Sprout Academy of St. Petersburg and Magnolia Day School of St. Petersburg.

“Right now, too many kids are starting school not ready for kindergarten and that hampers their success in grades K-2 and beyond,” said Stacy Baier, CEO of the Pinellas Education Foundation. “The Pinellas Early Literacy Initiative will work to build closer alignment in what students are learning by investing in PreK to grade 2 early childhood education teachers and leaders whose instructional leadership makes a positive difference in outcomes for students.”

To learn more about the research behind the Pinellas Early Literacy Initiative, please read the Pinellas Education Foundation’s Early Literacy Scan Report.