Category Archives: Education

Federal Program Spotlight: Farm to School

This blog is part of a series highlighting federal programs that support children, families and communities.

Just-for-Kids Veggie-Garden-Box gardeningThe 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:

  1. Support Service Grants: Intended for local and state agencies, agricultural producers, Indian tribal organizations and other non-profit entities (aka, the “intermediaries”) to further develop and provide support for the Farm to School programs.
  2. Implementation Grants: For schools to help further develop existing Farm to School programs.
  3. Planning Grants: For schools who are getting started to develop and structure their Farm to School Program.
  4. Training Grants: Intended for local and state agencies, agricultural producers, Indiana tribal organizations and other non-profit entities to help in training individuals in technical assistance and the strengthening of local food systems.

Implementation and support service awards range from $65,000 – $100,000; Planning awards range from $20,000 – $45,000; and training awards range from $15,000 – $50,000. Matching funds of 25% are required for all four grant types.

The Farm to School program has already reported success. In the 2011-2012 school year, the Farm to School program helped approximately 40,328 schools, totaling 23,513,237 children across the nation. In Indiana, 655 schools (representing 402,732 children) participated in the Farm to School program in the 2011-2012 school year.

Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation reported positive reactions from children, stating that: “A local farmer comes during Farm to School Month in October for a meet your farmer day. The kids were so excited about his visit we double our vegetables sales those days and the days that follow!”

While the FY 2016 grant application deadline has already passed, information about the next grant round can be found on their website or by signing up for the Farm to School Newsletter.

Transform Consulting Group applauds programs encouraging healthy and positive child development as well as school-community partnership. For more information about our program development and grant writing services, contact us today!

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Transformational Organization Spotlight: Jump IN to Hoosier Health

jumpinChildhood 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:

  1. Increasing access to healthier foods, and encouraging consumption
  2. Increasing physical activity
  3. Embracing healthy habits

These three strategies are spread across eight focus areas, which work together to better a child’s health and welfare:

  • Clinician Training: training physicians;
  • Communication and Public Awareness: educating the community;
  • Community-Based Pilots: providing health resources;
  • Data and Analytics: measuring and collecting data;
  • Employer Wellness: partnering with employers;
  • Nutrition: increasing access to health foods;
  • Physical Activity: connecting with community organizations and schools;
  • Public Policy: advocating policy changes.

Jump IN wants to give families and children accessible opportunities, such as incorporating activity into the work or school day, to make healthy choices in healthy environments. Through exciting community initiatives, such as partnering with early childhood education programs to provide meaningful physical activity for preschoolers, Jump IN hopes to change the course of childhood obesity in Central Indiana.

Jump IN has looked to other community initiatives across the nation, such as the state of Mississippi, which has cut the percentage of elementary school students who were classified as overweight or obese from 43 percent to 37.7 percent in only six years. Jump IN looks to programs like this to determine successful initiatives, and advocates for them here in Indiana, such as nutrition standards and health education. Jump IN can be visited online for more information and opportunities, and can be followed on Facebook or Twitter

Transform Consulting Group applauds the leadership of JumpIN to make a positive difference for children and families in Central Indiana.

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Online Toolkit for Early Childhood Donors

Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 3.40.14 PMThe 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 as strong starts for young children and harmful chemical exposure.
  • Blog Interviews: Interviews with field experts
  • Strategies for Investing: Information for donors regarding stakeholders and important background information.
  • Return on Investment Profile: Information on what programs to support, the benefits and how to invest.

Transform Consulting Group works to stay current with the latest research to inform its clients and align services to “what works”. For more information on the latest research in your industry, contact us today.

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New Pre-K Family Engagement Program with AmeriCorps

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 4.49.36 PMEarly 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 poll commissioned by the Kellogg Foundation found that 42% of U.S. parents believe that involvement in their child’s education is most critical between birth and through preschool.

The addition of the AmeriCorps grant will provide approximately 15 AmeriCorps members who will work with high-quality pre-k programs in three of the five counties (Allen, Marion and Vanderburgh) participating in the state of Indiana’s On My Way Pre-K pilot program. The AmeriCorps members will train and support providers’ capacity to engage families and develop on-going partnerships with parents and community based organizations.

Transform Consulting Group applauds Early Learning Indiana’s leadership in applying the latest research on family engagement while addressing a critical gap in Indiana’s pre-k programs. Transform Consulting Group was hired by Early Learning Indiana to help them strategize a partnership with AmeriCorps to support the engagement of families in high quality pre-k programs and assist them in completing the AmeriCorps grant application.

Need help updating a program design or applying for a grant? Transform Consulting Group stays current with the latest research. We can use this experience to align your program and organization to “what’s working”. Contact us today, no matter whether the project is large or small!

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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). earlyintervention 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 children are ready for preschool and kindergarten.

Positive early experiences not only benefit children but also their families and communities:

  • Services to young children who have, or are at risk for, developmental delays have been shown to positively impact health, language and communication, cognitive development and social/emotional development.
  • Families benefit from early intervention by being able to better meet their children’s special needs from an early age and throughout their lives.
  • Benefits to society include reducing economic burden through a decreased need for special education.

Each state has a lead agency to administer the program. To select a state, click here. Each state’s Part C program is accountable for delivering the early intervention services in accordance to the federal statute:

  • Identify and represent the interests of state and territory infant and toddler early intervention programs at the national level;
  • Develop and recommend models, standards, policies, and programs that promote quality services to eligible infants and toddlers and their families; and
  • Strengthen current leadership and foster new leadership in early intervention programs at the local, state or territory, and national levels.

Indiana’s Early Intervention Program, Indiana First Steps, is administered by the Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) with nine regional offices across the state. More information about the Indiana First Steps program can be found by clicking here. Transform Consulting Group has experience working with state and local organizations to apply for and implement federal programs in their community. Contact us today for a free consultation or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

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New State of Preschool Report Released

preschool reportThe 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:

  1. The first section describes trends in Pre-K enrollment, quality standards, and spending.
  2. The second section includes detailed state profiles. Profile pages are also included for states without state-funded programs.
  3. The last section of the report contains appendices with tables that provide the complete 2013-2014 survey data obtained from every state, as well as Head Start, child care, U.S. Census, and special education data.

Other information highlighted in the report includes early learning standards, a resource break-down, and benchmark requirements per state. For the 2013-2014 school year, Indiana did not have a state-funded preschool program, per criteria outlined in the full report. However, Indiana will transition out of one of the ten states without a state funded Pre-K program for next year’s 2014 – 2015 annual report with the Early Education Matching Grant program (EEMG) and On My Way Pre-K (OMY)!

Transform Consulting Group has been working with the Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning (OECOSL) to support the implementation of these new Pre-K programs in Indiana. Contact us today to learn how Transform Consulting Group can help implement your organization’s programs to make a deeper impact in your community. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter!

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Transformational Organization Spotlight: Wabash County Promise

wabashThe 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 up,” and “Who are the champions in my life who will help support me along the way?”
  3. Walk into My Future: “College Go Week” in September provides college visits for students in Grades K-3 to Manchester University to participate in hands-on activities, experience a college campus and participate in a mall walk that symbolizes walking into the future.
  4. Engaging Champions: Students are encouraged to identify champions in their life who will encourage them and contribute financially to their college savings account. Students in grades K-4 who raise at least $25 receive a matching gift of $75 for their college accounts.

In the first year of the Wabash County Promise:

  • Over 1,600 youth visited the campus of Manchester University for the “Walk into My Future Event.”
  • 9 out of 10 teachers observed increases in students’ hope for their futures.
  • Parental awareness of 529 plans increased from 41% to 82%.
  • Students with 529 accounts in grades K-3 increased from 6% to over 72%.

Transform Consulting Group applauds the community of Wabash County to work together in facilitating college and career readiness in all of its youth. Transform Consulting Group supports college and career readiness programs in having clear outcomes and tracking progress on the attainment of their post-secondary education goals. Contact us or visit our website to learn more!

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Grad Nation Report Released

 

GradNation-logo 300L.ashx America’s Promise Alliance, Alliance for Excellent Education, Civic Enterprises and Everyone Graduates Center for John Hopkins University has released the 6th annual report update demonstrating progress towards a national quest to achieve a 90-percent high school graduation rate by 2020. The GradNation campaign, led by America’s Promise Alliance, not only hopes to increase the on-time graduation rate, but also increase postsecondary enrollment and completion rates for groups of students that have traditionally struggled to earn a high school diploma.

The Report reveals a continuing pattern that shows high school graduation rates are not increasing because of broad national economic, demographic, or social trends. Rather, the collection of leadership, reforms, and multi-sector efforts at state, district, and school levels are driving the progress. With focus and concerted effort, graduation rates can be increased in every part of the country.

In the sixth year of the Grad Nation report, highlights include:

  • National High School Graduation rate has hit 81.4 percent, a record high.
  • 29 of 50 states equaled or exceed the national average of 81.4 percent, with six states within two percentage points of reaching the 90 percent goal.
  • Hispanic/Latino students have made the greatest gains by improving 4.2 graduation-rate percentage points from 2011 to 2013.
  • Graduation rates in African American students have also risen by 3.7 percentage points within two years. In 2011, the graduation rate was 67 percent and in 2013 it was 70.7 percent.
  • The number of schools labeled as “dropout factories,” has decreased to fewer than 1,200 nationwide with fewer than 1.5 million students attending them.

adjustedgradrate

Improvements need to be made in the graduation rates of low-income, minority, special education, and English-language learning students as they are are still “unacceptably low.” Big states must also continue driving progress in large school districts where the majority of the country’s student population resides. The full report includes policy recommendations and resources for policy makers, teachers, and city officials.

Transform Consulting Group strives to stay current with the latest research and best practice information to inform the work with our clients. Contact us today for more information on gathering the latest research in your industry to build your organization’s capacity.

 

 

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Program Spotlight: Indiana Afterschool Network

 

According to a study by the Afterschool Alliance, roughly 11.3 million school-aged children are left alone and unsupervised during the hours afterschool. Approximately 19.4 million children would participate in out-of-school time (OST) programs if they were offered. Indiana Afterschool Network (IAN) is an organization with a mission to promote afterschool and summer learning through connecting and inspiring youth, community partners, and advocates. IAN hopes to ensure all K-12 youth have access to high quality learning experiences that extend beyond the school day.

IAN recently launched the Indiana Academy for Out-of-School Learning to help educate OST professionals in a partnership with the National Afterschool Association and Child Care Aware. Roberta L. Newman is credited with creating the 36-course Certificate Series, and has previous experience developing comprehensive statewide certification and credentialing modules. These modules have been used in both Arkansas and South Dakota to successfully train OST staff. Thirty-six courses were created with the goal of providing high quality, affordable professional development and certification options.  

The courses are self-directed or instructor-lead, and each yields a Certificate of Completion at the end. Participants can engage in online discussion-answer sessions, download resources, and utilize a note-taking tool within the program. Education courses range from Managing School-Age Children in Groups to Providing Homework Support. There are also administrative courses that cover subjects like Health and Stress Management and Creating Community Collaborations.

These certificate programs are provided at a cost of $75.00 per individual, per year, and scholarships are available to help pay for the costs. Additional cost-related information can be found here. To learn more about applying for this training opportunity, click here or send an emailTo learn more about IAN’s Out-of-School learning programs, register for a free informational webinar. The upcoming dates are as follows:

  • May 27 at 1:30 pm EST
  • May 29 at 12:00 pm EST
  • June 2 at 1:00 pm EST
  • June 4 at 12:30 pm EST

Transform Consulting Group applauds the work that IAN is doing to raise the capacity of OST staff through creating awareness of these online professional development resources. Transform Consulting Group is dedicated to helping organizations stay current with the latest research and aligning programming to “what works”.  Contact us today to learn more!

 

 

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Federal Grant Opportunity: First in the World

 

grads 1The Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education has launched the First in the World (FITW) grant program for higher education institutions to drive innovations in higher education and increase college affordability, completion, and quality outcomes through the development and testing of new approaches and strategies. This year, FITW will have two tiers:

In the development tier, projects will be funded in three areas (with specific descriptions in the announcement):

  1. Improving teaching and learning
  2. Developing and using assessments of student learning
  3. Facilitating pathways to credentialing and transfer

In the validation tier, projects will be funded in these four areas:

  1. Improving success in developmental education
  2. Improving teaching and learning
  3. Improving student support services
  4. Influencing the development of non-cognitive factors

In the 2015 fiscal year, $60 million will become available as part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to push education. Fifteen of the $60 million will be set aside for minority-serving institutions, which includes historically Black College and Universities. Applications for the program are due June 30, 2015.

Eligible applicants include institutions of higher education, combinations of such institutions, and other public and private institutions and agencies. Applicants are eligible to qualify as a Minority-Serving Institution (MSI) under the First in the World Competition if they meet at least one of the following conditions:

  1. Participated in the Department’s FY 2015 designation of eligibility process and received an approval letter
  2. Currently has an open grant under one of the Department’s Title III, Parts A and F and/or Title V programs
  3. Designated as a Historically Black College or University, or a Tribally Controlled College or University.

All applications should be submitted on online through Grants.gov. To complete a paper application, a written request must be submitted at least two weeks prior to the application deadline date. The First in the World team will host a pre-application webinar in partnership with the Institute of Education Sciences TODAY, May 19, 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm EDT.

Transform Consulting Group has worked with numerous programs across the state to find funding that supports college and career readiness initiatives. From creating a comprehensive fund development plan to submitting a full grant proposal, Transform Consulting Group is available to support your organization’s efforts. Contact us today for a free consultation!

 

 

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