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Care Foundation Awards $3 Million in Community Grants

July 1, 2014

Grants focus on education and hunger relief for underserved children

Care Foundation announced $3,006,000 in grants today to support underserved children across Northwest Arkansas through Pre-K and hunger relief efforts. These grants are part of Care’s commitment to create a thriving and vibrant Northwest Arkansas by investing in the areas of community vitality, health care, and education.

Care Foundation will provide $2.9 million to expand existing Pre-K programs in the Springdale, Rogers, and Bentonville school districts, allowing them to serve 200 additional students annually for the next three years. While studies show that underserved children can benefit significantly from early childhood education, more than 4,000 underserved children are currently without access to Pre-K programming in Northwest Arkansas. Care Foundation will help close that gap by supporting local affiliates of the Arkansas Better Chance (ABC) program, an initiative licensed and monitored by the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

According to the National Institute for Early Education Research, ABC participants show sustained gains in vocabulary, math, and literacy skills and are much less likely to be held back at the end of third grade. ABC programs also focus on “soft skills,” such as motivation, perseverance, self-regulation, and other socio-emotional aspects. A growing body of research shows that proficiency in these areas is just as important to success as intelligence, and employers are placing more and more value on workers’ ability to interact socially.

“Early childhood education should be available and accessible for every child. Despite growing demand for Pre-K programs—especially from low-income families—state funding has remained the same since 2008. Grants like these from Care Foundation make it possible for hundreds more underserved children to get an early start on the path to success,” said Laura Kellams, Northwest Arkansas Director for Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, which actively supports research, policy, and legislation to increase the availability of quality Pre-K programs. “With an economic return of at least $7 for every $1 we invest, early childhood education is one of the best investments we can make towards the state’s overall prosperity,” stated Kellams.

Samaritan Community Center will also receive a $90,000 grant over three years for a new Middle School Mini Meals Program. According to data compiled by Feeding America, one in every four children in Northwest Arkansas is impacted by hunger. Building on Samaritan’s successful SnackPacks for Kids program in elementary schools, Mini Meals will offer meal replacements to underserved middle school students on the weekends when they are in need.

 "Programs like ABC Pre-K and the Middle School Mini Meals Program can help give underserved kids the boost they need to learn, grow, thrive, and make a difference in the lives of their families and their communities,” said Lisa Ray, President and CEO of Arvest Bank in Springdale and President of Care Foundation's board
of directors. “Care Foundation is pleased to help support efforts to improve quality of life for today’s children and generations to come.”

About Care Foundation

Over the last 15 years, Care Foundation has invested nearly $60 million in the areas of community vitality, health care, and education to create a thriving and vibrant Northwest Arkansas. Care was funded through the sale of two nonprofit hospitals in Northwest Arkansas in 1999, and is the largest fund and supporting organization of Endeavor Foundation. Care continues today to respond to the region’s most pressing needs by relying on local leaders and nonprofits to address those needs through innovative thinking and long term solutions. Care supports collaborative efforts that build upon lessons learned and explore big ideas that have the potential to bring real change to the people and communities of Northwest Arkansas.

 Media Contact Information & Interviews

For more information or to schedule an interview with the Foundation or any of our grantees, please contact Anita Scism, President and CEO, Endeavor Foundation. Anita can be reached at anita@endeavorfoundation.net or by phone at (479) 361-4624 (office) or (479) 409-7964 (mobile).