Erie’s Future Fund was created in 2011, an outgrowth of the Erie Community Foundation’s Early Childhood Advisory Panel in partnership with United Way of Erie County, Success By 6, members of the Early Learning Investment Commission (ELIC) and Erie Together. Leaders from the foundation, corporate, nonprofit and civic sectors sought to address growing concerns about the lack of school readiness among many children entering kindergarten, and the significant impact this was having now, and would have in the future, on Erie County’s economy and quality of life.
Early childhood research shows that well-focused early childhood education investments can produce high public returns, particularly for children living in families with low income levels. Erie’s Future Fund will provide scholarships to low-income families in neighborhoods with the highest percentage of families with children under 5 living in poverty.
The scholarships allow children to attend a high-quality Early Childhood Education (ECE) program at ages 3 and 4. Families select from area public and private ECE programs that meet the STARS* criteria of Level 3 or 4.
Erie’s Future Fund through Success By 6 and its task forces that target areas of health, children’s mental health, education, special needs, and prevention of abuse and neglect, promotes parent involvement beginning prenatally. Families are provided guidance on selecting an ECE program, skills and knowledge necessary to promote school readiness throughout their child’s early years, and information about health, child development, and community resources to support their family’s needs.
Erie’s Future Fund goal is to provide scholarships for approximately 285 low-income children in the 2012-2013 school year.