Governor's Office announces early childhood grants, Illinois to receive $80 million over four years

The DuPage Community Foundation
Updated 12/22/2014 6:34 PM

WHEATON, Ill. -- Gov. Pat Quinn announced last week the Illinois recipients to receive funding through a competitive federal grant program from the U.S. Department of Education and Health and Human Services.

Through this program, Illinois will receive $20 million per year, renewable for four years, to expand access to full-day preschool services for 4-year-olds in 18 communities around the state. Three of those communities are in DuPage County-Addison, West Chicago and Wheaton/Warrenville-and two of those (Addison and Wheaton/Warrenville) have collaboratives supported by The DuPage Community Foundation's Bright & Early DuPage initiative.


The grants -- Preschool Development Grant-Expansion Grants -- are awarded to school districts throughout the country and are intended to help build, develop and expand high-quality preschool programs for low to moderate-income families.

In just the first year, the Preschool Development Grants will serve more than 33,000 additional children across the United States.

School districts in DuPage that received a portion of the award include Addison School District 4, West Chicago School District 33 and Wheaton/Warrenville Community Unit School District 200.

The DuPage Community Foundation has been partnering with Addison and Wheaton/Warrenville through its Bright & Early DuPage initiative to help them establish and build collaborations aimed at ensuring kindergarten readiness for children birth to five.

"Expanding access to full-day preschool means a richer day of learning that helps prepare children for success in kindergarten and beyond," said Theresa Nihill, executive director of Metropolitan Family Services DuPage. "We are excited to partner with a great team of organizations to keep building a strong foundation for children in our community." Metropolitan Family Services DuPage serves as the fiscal agent for both the Addison and Wheaton/Warrenville early childhood collaboratives.

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Metropolitan Family Services DuPage will launch and oversee three new classrooms in the Wheaton/Warrenville area, and serve as the federal grant's fiscal agent. Metropolitan Family Services DuPage, along with each of the communities benefiting from the grant, are committed to developing a "pipeline" of services for children from birth through third grade, supporting the most vulnerable children and their families throughout the early childhood years.

"The receipt of this award will allow us to expand early education to some of our youngest, at-risk learners who would not otherwise have the opportunity for a high-quality preschool experience," said Dr. Joanne Panopoulos, assistant superintendent for student services for CUSD 200. "The district works together with the Wheaton/Warrenville collaborative to improve kindergarten readiness by developing a coordinated delivery system for early childhood services in the community with a focus on increasing access to services for those in under-resourced areas of the community. By leveraging these community resources and working together to coordinate support and services in preparing these students for kindergarten we are offering a much more comprehensive approach than ever before for students in District 200."

Jefferson Early Childhood Center is home to CUSD 200's youngest learners and plays a critical role in the collaborative by providing developmental screenings for children, staff development for partner organizations and parent education and family support

through common messaging, materials and community connections. "We are thrilled to be able to expand those services," added Panopoulos.

The mission of the Addison Early Childhood Collaborative is to ensure that coordinated and comprehensive quality early learning experiences are available, accessible, and most importantly, utilized by the diverse families and young children of Addison so that they can achieve their maximum potential.


"The grant from The DuPage Community Foundation has been so instrumental in continuing and enhancing the work of the Addison Early Childhood Collaborative," said Chuck Wartman, assistant superintendent for Addison School District 4. "The DuPage Community Foundation has provided an opportunity to our collaborative to have a central focus which is to educate and communicate to all community partners, service providers, and families about the importance of kindergarten readiness and early intervention."

"Through the support of the Foundation, we have been able to seed collaboratives in areas where they are needed most," said Barb Szczepaniak, Foundation director of programs. "These collaboratives have been able to put systems in place to help families learn, understand and prepare their children for success when they enter kindergarten. The announcement of the grants to school districts in Illinois and especially DuPage will greatly support our collaborative efforts and is particularly exciting because it's confirmation that the Foundation's initial investments helped position these communities to be eligible to apply for and receive this funding."

About Bright & Early DuPage:

Bright & Early DuPage is piloted and funded by The DuPage Community Foundation. The board of trustees of The DuPage Community Foundation believes that Bright & Early DuPage is an opportunity for the foundation to work with a variety of funders (i.e., individuals, organizations, foundations, etc.) to address a fundamental quality of life issue that will create a better future for DuPage County citizens for generations to come.

To date, the foundation has established an endowment of more than $5.5 million from which income will be used to address early childhood care and education and workforce development issues in perpetuity.

The foundation expects to contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars to Bright & Early DuPage projects over the next several years and will actively seek additional funds to extend the scope and impact of this critical Initiative.

For every dollar invested in early childhood education, it has been estimated that $7 to $10 is saved on remedial education, health and criminal justice expenditures.

For more information about the Foundation's Bright & Early Initiative, visit

About The DuPage Community Foundation:

The DuPage Community Foundation seeks to raise the quality of life throughout DuPage County by fostering philanthropy, connecting donors to area needs and building community partnerships. Based on the American virtues of volunteerism and philanthropy, the Foundation fosters a legacy of support for the people of DuPage County by making grants to nonprofit organizations working in the areas of arts and culture, education, environment, health, and human services. Since its inception, the Foundation has built its endowment to more than $60 million and awarded more than $20 million in grants to not-for-profit agencies serving the residents of DuPage County and beyond.

Established in 1986, The DuPage Community Foundation is a publicly-supported 501(c)(3) organization to which contributions are tax deductible. It was created to benefit the people of DuPage County and receives contributions and bequests into a permanent endowment from

individuals, corporations, organizations and foundations wishing to make lasting contributions to the people of DuPage. The earnings on these funds are then used, in accordance with donor wishes, for the foundation's grantmaking and community leadership activities.

For more information about the foundation, contact Joelyn Kott, marketing and communications officer, at (630) 665-5556, ext. 19, or