Columbia -- Grants for the South Carolina Community Block Grant for Education Pilot Program were awarded to seven initiatives throughout the state, with eighteen participating districts and additional community partners, including local Head Start and First Steps partnerships. This one-year block grant program is a matching grants initiative designed to encourage sustainable partnerships among South Carolina school districts and community groups. The General Assembly and Governor approved the grant in the state budget to improve children’s readiness for kindergarten by enhancing the quality of state-funded full day 4K programs and instruction. Over the past four years, applicants have requested $9.3 million in funding with almost $4 million awarded from fiscal year 2015-16 through fiscal year 2018-19.
For fiscal year 2018-19, $950,000 was awarded to the following districts:
While the awarded projects’ strategies and approaches vary, all focus on enhancing the quality of four-year-old kindergarten and interactions between teachers and their students. Young children's relationships with teachers predict future emotional, social and academic success. In studies of teacher-child relationships, children who had a secure relationship with their preschool and kindergarten teachers demonstrated good peer interactions and positive relationships with teachers and peers in elementary school.
“The demand is evident in the $9.3 million districts have requested over the past four years. The outcomes show significant, replicable improvements in children learning,” said Christopher Leventis Cox, chair of the grants committee that decided final grant awards. “We are grateful the General Assembly has allocated funding. It’s critical we continue to encourage innovation with quantifiable outcomes that can impact young children’s learning while supporting educators and kindergarten readiness.”
The grants committee is an independent group of educators and business leaders who review and make final award decisions.
Per a proviso in the state budget, the Executive Director of the Education Oversight Committee is charged with reviewing and reporting on the results of the funded programs. Upon the completion of an evaluation, the Education Oversight Committee will disseminate a report with project outcomes, lessons learned and best practices.