"The Chamber has been an advocate for high-quality education in Conway for more than 100 years," said Jamie Gates, senior vice president of the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce. "Our goals haven't changed. We want to create world-class opportunity for our young people and prepare the next generation's workforce and neighbors. Investing in early childhood education offers our organization the best return on our members' time and money."
The Lifelong Learners initiative began working with four pilot sites this fall. Those four sites will affect nine child care providers and more than 270 area pre-schoolers. Lifelong Learners will assist local pre-schools and day cares with professional development, installation of highest quality curriculum and parent education. Lifelong Learners will also develop and distribute parenting and teaching methods focused on milestone achievement for children from birth to age 5.
"There is no population more vulnerable than kids under the age of 5. They are completely dependent and completely impressionable," said Lifelong Learners Inc. founder Dr. Charlotte Green. "Today's announcement says that as a community, we get it. We're going to work together to build their educational foundation."
Partners in the launch of the community wide initiative include: the Chamber of Commerce, Lifelong Learners Inc., Conway Public Schools, AETN and area pre-k providers. "We thought it was important to leverage our existing pre-k infrastructure," said Gates. "We want to give our providers and our area parents access to the best in training and teaching materials."
The Conway Area Chamber also announced a commitment of $50,000 annually from its Toad Suck Daze Festival proceeds to fund the effort. Since 1982, Toad Suck Daze has raised more than $1.4 million in college scholarships. Toad Suck Daze will continue to fund college scholarships through its foundation and annual gifts.