With over 80 percent of Mississippi’s four year olds and about two-thirds of all children in some sort of licensed child care facility, the infrastructure is in place to systematically ensure all children are able to start kindergarten ready to learn. Below are examples of how local communities are pulling together their multiple early childcare related resources to reach this objective.
Excel By 5
Excel By 5 is a community based early childhood certification project focused on communities voluntarily coordinating local assets to provide children access to the resources they need to enter kindergarten ready to succeed. Essentially, the project designates certification whereby communities that choose to can be formally recognized as “child-friendly,” – but it doesn’t stop there. The program identifies gaps in community resources, encourages community collaboration and volunteerism, promotes economic development, and addresses children’s needs with regard to education, health care, safety and childcare. Overall, children in these communities will be healthier and better prepared to begin their formal education at age five.
With generous financial support from Chevron Corporation and the Phil Hardin Foundation, Excel By 5 was piloted in Pascagoula, Petal, West Point, and Cleveland, Mississippi. The Gilmore Foundation (see below) funded the project in Monroe County, and the Walker Foundation funded a Mid-Jackson neighborhood. The project is currently underway in Alligator, Belzoni, Beulah, Biloxi, Cleveland, Duncan, Gunnison, Hancock County, Hattiesburg, Hollandale, Isola, Louise, Mid-Jackson, Monroe County, Moss Point, Oktibbeha County, Pace, Pascagoula, Petal, Rosedale, Shelby, Silver City, Stone County and West Point, Mississippi.
The Gilmore Foundation
The Gilmore Foundation is private not-for-profit grant-making organization serving Amory, Monroe County and all of Northeast Mississippi. With the reallocation of its assets from the sale of Gilmore Memorial Hospital, the Foundation’s many years of service and community involvement continues.
Guided by its tradition of serving humanity, the Gilmore Foundation is committed to improving the quality of life through grant-making endeavors. The Foundation invests in organizations that provide or strengthen education, health, workforce development ,or offer other initiatives to improve the quality of life in the area. “We are here, faithful and prepared to serve.”