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1,600 Area Families to Receive Play-Based Learning Kits from Impression 5 and WKAR

sample of items to be included in learning kits
1,600 play-based learning kits will be provided to families. Contents may vary from the examples shown.

Impression 5 Science Center announced this week that it has received a $35,000 grant from the PNC Foundation to fund at-home, play-based learning kits, which will be delivered to more than 1,600 Ingham County Head Start families each month from July through December 2020.

WKAR Public Media is proud to be a part of this new coronavirus response grant initiative that brings together Capital Area Community Services, Inc. (CACS) Head Start and Early Childhood Development, PNC Foundation and Impression 5 Science Center to benefit local children and their families.

With Impression 5 young child programming coming to a halt this year, it became a priority to find ways to stay connected with families of young children and continue to serve in dynamic ways.

“While we couldn’t invite these families here to Impression 5, our team really leaned in at every opportunity to take our onsite hands-on experience and transform it to a virtual offering—such as filming live online science investigations. This grant allows us to go a step further and get great hands-on materials physically into homes—and not just on screens,” said Erik Larson, executive director of Impression 5 Science Center.

This initiative plays to the strengths of each partner organization. PNC Foundation is supplying key early childhood education resources that support literacy, math, and help build lasting social and emotional skills.

“Finding ways to encourage creativity and a thirst for learning in children is vital during these challenging times,” said Tim Salisbury, PNC regional president for Mid-Michigan. “A recent study from the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at the Rutgers Graduate School of Education, funded with support from the PNC Foundation, found that participation in preschool education for children aged three to five dropped from 61% prior to the pandemic to only 8% as COVID-19 cases began to rise. We are thrilled that this wonderful initiative is bringing hands-on learning to local families with children who are missing out on classroom education at this time.”

Larson says WKAR’s incredible early education programming, media, and PBS Kids resources provide a great vehicle to share this outreach opportunity with the community.

“WKAR is proud of the long-standing partnership with Impression 5 Science Center, PNC Foundation and Head Start, which reinforces our collective commitment to providing educational programming and resources to families in the capital region," said Susi Elkins, WKAR general manager. "In these unprecedented times, these kits will give parents with young children the necessary tools to support play-based learning at home, using content that families can trust."

CACS Head Start’s trusted relationships with families is key to ensuring these kits are distributed to as many households as possible.

“It is a privilege to collaborate with the generous organizations of PNC, Impression 5, WKAR and PBS to provide learning materials of children and families whose face-to-face instruction was interrupted by COVID-19. We recognize that our children and their families now need additional resources during the pandemic. Working together with these organizations allowed CACS Head Start to maintain and strengthen our mission to 'support families and prepare children for success in school and in life,'” said Mandi Woodward, CACS Head Start/GSRP ed supervisor. This program is available at no cost to families and provides materials to continue to develop math, literacy and social emotional skills at home. “This grant gives us an opportunity to supply engaging items for families to learn, play and grow together during these unprecedented times.”

Impression 5 Science Center’s hands-on play approach to learning means these kits include thoughtfully curated components to help young children engage with content in tactile and meaningful ways.

With 1,600 kits to assemble monthly, volunteers from Impression 5 and CACS Head Start will gather six times—donned in masks and in a social distance-friendly fashion—to create more than 9,600 interactive kits before December 2020!

The PNC Foundation, which receives its principal funding from The PNC Financial Services Group (www.pnc.com), actively supports organizations that provide services for the benefit of communities in which it has a significant presence. The foundation focuses its philanthropic mission on early childhood education and community and economic development, which includes the arts and culture. Through Grow Up Great, its signature cause that began in 2004, PNC has created a bilingual $500 million, multi-year initiative to help prepare children from birth to age 5 for success in school and life.

Impression 5 Science Center is a hands-on space for students and families to play, create, and challenge their understanding of science. Located in downtown Lansing, the Science Center serves over 3,500 member families and up to 170,000 visitors each year. While Impression 5 is currently closed to the public, its team continues to provide virtual opportunities for our community to engage in hands-on science. Visit impression5.org to learn more.

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