Investment in Early Childhood Development has the potential to strengthen the economy through significant gains in health, education, social behaviors, and employment. Among the impressive statistics, the economic impact of investing in early learning has been the impetus for a statewide trend of community coordination and the formation of local early learning coalitions. As the Rush County Community Foundation’s Board of Directors examined data to determine how to best allocate a portion of unrestricted dollars for the Foundation’s first proactive grant, it became evident that today’s investment in early childhood development has the opportunity to impact Rush County, both today and in the future.
RCCF is excited to announce Jeri McCorkle, a Rush County native and experienced educator, will lead the local efforts to develop an Early Learning Coalition. The $25,000 RCCF grant, awarded to Huffer Child Care Resource & Referral, has provided the funding for Jeri’s position and the necessary costs to begin the coalition.
Jeri began in the position in mid-September and will work closely with Huffer CC&R and the By5 organization in the approaching months to develop a strategy for Rush County’s Early Learning Coalition. Partnering with local organizations, resources, individuals, and businesses will be critical to the development and expansion of Early Learning as a priority in Rush County. Jeri stated, “I am excited to become the Coordinator of Rush County’s Early Learning Coalition. I grew up on a farm on the north end of Rush County and graduated from RCHS. I have my undergraduate and master’s degree from Ball State in elementary education. I taught at Cowan Elementary for more than 20 years, as well as lived in the Cowan community. During that time, my husband Mark and I raised two boys (Andrew, 24, and Trevor, 21), sent them to IU, and out into the world of business. We recently moved to Milroy. We moved back to Rush County to be near family, to get involved in our hometown community, and to work with nonprofit organizations. I know that teachers directly impact the lives of their students. I want to continue making a difference by helping others reach their goals and then go on to achieve more than they ever thought they could.”
Of all community needs and opportunities, the Foundation views early childhood as a critical investment in Rush County. Building on a strong foundation of early learning not only leads to greater success in school, it is an essential factor in growing the success of individuals and businesses throughout the community. The goal of investing in Early Childhood Education through the formation of a coalition is to support and guide families in the importance of early learning and literacy of children from birth to age 5. The period between a baby’s first breath and the moment they first set foot in their Kindergarten classroom is a miraculous time. Every day provides opportunities for growth, learning and development. In fact, up to 90% of brain development is completed by age five. Jeri will be working to make sure families and children--regardless of location and income--have access to high-quality early learning environments (including child care and pre-school) to ensure safe, healthy, and developmentally-appropriate learning experiences.
Huffer Child Care Resource and Referral promotes quality child care by providing support services for families, providers and the community. Based out of Muncie, Indiana, the organization has a team of experts that work to increase the quality of early childhood education within a 10 county radius. Through this funded partnership and Jeri’s expertise, we look forward to coordinated efforts and free and affordable resources becoming more readily available to ALL local families.
For additional information on the Rush County Community Foundation, the impact of investment in Early Childhood Development, and the unrestricted funds that have made this grant possible, visit www.rushcountyfoundation.org or our office at 117 N. Main St., Rushville. To learn more about the coalition development or to meet Jeri, contact her directly at email@example.com.