BIRMINGHAM - A campaign to promote Alabama's top-ranked pre-kindergarten program got a shot in the arm through a grant from the Alabama Power Foundation.
The $30,000 grant will help inform Alabama residents - and lobby lawmakers for more funding - concerning the state's voluntary pre-k program, ranked the best in the United States by the National Institute for Early Education Research.
A shortage of state funding has limited expansion of the program to less than 3 percent of Alabama's 4-year-old children.
The Alabama Power Foundation contribution will be used by the Alabama School Readiness Alliance (ASRA), a coalition of child-advocacy groups promoting the pre-k program.
The alliance consists of the A+ Education Foundation; Alabama Giving; VOICES for Alabama's Children; and the Alabama Partnership for Children.
The grant was awarded through VOICES.
"Research shows children exposed to a high-quality pre-k experience tend to graduate from high school, earn more money and own a home," said Brittany Winfree, ASRA coordinator.
"We've got the best pre-k in the country. The challenge is to let the citizens of Alabama know about this program, and get the state Legislature to earmark more money to make it available statewide to all families who want to take advantage of it."
Currently, the state Office of School Readiness offers the pre-k program in only 85 Alabama sites, including schools, child care centers, university settings and other community locations.
"We're very grateful to the Alabama Power Foundation for helping promote this issue," Winfree said.
Bobbie Knight, vice president of Public Relations for Alabama Power, also is on the VOICES board of directors.
"The Alabama Power Foundation considers it a privilege to help give our children, through early education, the opportunity to have a positive, fulfilling life when they reach adulthood," Knight said.
The Alabama Power Foundation works to improve the quality of life of Alabamians and strengthen the communities in which they live. Since 1990, the foundation has provided more than $100 million in grants to worthy projects across Alabama. Details about the foundation are available at www.alabamapowerfoundation.com.