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Federal Program Spotlight: Farm to School

This blog is part of a series highlighting federal programs that support children, families and communities. The United States Department of Agriculture’s Farm to School Grant Program was created with the purpose of assisting eligible programs in creating a farm to school program to improve access to fresh, local food in schools. Managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service, the Farm to School Grant Program not only promotes the use of farm fresh foods, but also provides education and awareness about healthy eating for children and educators. There are four grant categories for which an organization can apply: Support Service Grants: Intended for local and state agencies, agricultural producers, Indian tribal organizations and other non-profit entities

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Transformational Organization Spotlight: Jump IN to Hoosier Health

Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. To help combat these alarming statistics, many organizations, companies, families, and individuals are sounding the alarm for healthier options and public policy changes. Jump IN for Healthy Kids, formed by a coalition of Central Indiana community and business leaders, has one ambitious goal in mind: to have a 12% reduction in childhood obesity rate by 2025. To accomplish this goal, Jump IN has three main strategies to help empower children and their families: Increasing access to healthier foods, and encouraging consumption Increasing physical activity Embracing healthy habits These three strategies are spread across eight focus areas, which work together to better a child’s

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Online Toolkit for Early Childhood Donors

The Center for High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania has released web-based version of Invest in a Strong Start: An Early Childhood Toolkit for Donors. For individuals and organizations interested in supporting early childhood education, the toolkit provides key facts, strategies for investment, high impact opportunities and key partners you should know. As an extension of an ongoing partnership with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the toolkit was created by a team that reviewed over 50 pieces of major research reports and policy analyses, collaborated with national networks, and interviewed experts and leaders in the early childhood field. The expanded and updated toolkit includes the following components: Funder Briefs: Background information and resources of early childhood topics such

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New Online Family Engagement Inventory Tool

Family engagement is recognized as a foundation for children’s success across the human services and education fields. The Children’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services created the Family Engagement Inventory (FEI) to assist professionals in child welfare, juvenile justice, behavioral health, early education, and education to access current family engagement strategies and resources across these fields of practice. The definition of Family Engagement changes between each field of practice. Behavioral Health: Focuses on getting families and providers to effectively communicate information, needs, values, and attitudes that are necessary to develop a beneficial alliance for the child. Child Welfare: Engagement is family-centered and strength-based; Involves helping families set and achieve goals and make important decisions. Early Childhood

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New Pre-K Family Engagement Program with AmeriCorps

Early Learning Indiana is working to engage parents in their child’s education and development and help parents support their child’s learning at home. Through a newly awarded AmeriCorps grant provided by Serve Indiana, Early Learning Indiana will be able to build the capacity of Indiana pre-k programs to engage parents. A growing body of research suggests that meaningful engagement of families in their children’s early learning supports school readiness and later academic success. As a means to supporting family engagement and children’s learning, it is crucial that programs implement strategies for developing partnerships with families. The good news is that parents of all income-levels desire and want to be more engaged in their child’s early education. A 2014 nationally representative

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Federal Program Spotlight: Early Intervention

As part of Transform Consulting Group’s series highlighting federal programs that provide education opportunities and/or youth development services in communities, the next federal program that is highlighted is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Early Intervention Program for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities (Part C). IDEA, Part C is designed to assist any child under the age of three who has a disability or significant delays in development. Part C is a $436 million dollar program administered by states for infants and toddlers with developmental delays or who have diagnosed physical or mental conditions with high probabilities of resulting in developmental delays. Approximately 350,000 children are served by the Part C program with the goal of ensuring that such

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New State of Preschool Report Released

The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) has released The State of Preschool 2014 report. The newest edition of this annual report profiles state-funded prekindergarten programs throughout the United States, as well as documenting growth. The annual preschool report helps track and understand progress across states and the nation. National Highlights in this year’s State of Preschool report includes: State funding for Pre-K programs increased by nearly $120 million in 2013-2014. In 2013-2014, 29% of America’s 4-year-olds were enrolled in a state-funded Pre-K program. After a loss of 4,000 seats in 2012-2013, student enrollment increased by 8,535 in 2013-2014. Pre-K quality standards improved in 2013-2014. The annual report is divided into three sections: The first section describes trends in

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Federal Program Spotlight: Family and Youth Services Bureau

In the series highlighting federal programs, Transform Consulting Group is now highlighting the Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB). FYSB is a federal program administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to support organizations and communities that work to put an end to youth homelessness, adolescent pregnancy, and domestic violence. FYSB offers an array of services and programs in an effort to support the social and emotional well-being of youth and families. FYSB offers three key programs: Runaway and Homeless Youth Program supports street outreach, emergency shelters and longer-term transitional living and maternity group home programs to serve and protect this population. An executive summary of young people who experienced homelessness is available here. Family Violence

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Protecting Students, and Holding College Programs Accountable

Students pursuing education beyond high school have several different paths to choose: attend a trade school, community college, baccalaureate program, or for-profit institution – all of which can either be public, private non-profit or for-profit. Unfortunately, student outcomes and costs vary tremendously depending on the path pursued. According to the U.S. Department of Education, attending community college is one-fourth the cost of attending two-years at a for-profit institution. This causes 80 percent of students attending for-profit institutions to borrow, while less than 50 percent of students at public institutions have to borrow. The Obama Administration has announced new regulations that will go into affect on July 1, 2015 to help improve outcomes for students and also protect them from massive

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Transformational Organization Spotlight: Wabash County Promise

The Wabash County YMCA is “planting seeds of hope,” in its youth through a new initiative: Wabash County Promise. Wabash County Promise is a community-wide initiative to promote college and career readiness in students in grades K-12. The initiative includes four key college and career ready components: Educational Savings: At school registration, families enroll in a CollegeChoice529 college savings account and may receive help in doing so. Students with a college savings account are more likely to enroll in and complete college. College & Career Discovery: All students participate in college and career discovery in the classroom throughout the month of September. In the younger grades this includes lessons such as: “What do I want to be when I grow

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