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PNC donates $530k to help at-risk preschoolers
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Weston M. Andress, PNC regional president of Western Carolina, announces a $530,000 grant Thursday at Discovery Place in uptown Charlotte. The money will be used by three local nonprofits to help expose low-income preschool children to science and arts programs. (Photo: Glenn H. Burkins for Qcitymetro.com)

The PNC Foundation has given $530,000 to increase exposure of preschool children from low-income families to science and arts.

The two-year grant, officially announced Thursday, will be shared by Bethlehem Center, Community School of the Arts, and Discovery Place.

About 858 children are expected to participate in various programs funded by PNC’s grant. All are enrolled in Bethlehem Center’s eight Head Start locations in Charlotte.

Officials from the various organizations said the money would be used to:

• Hire specialists: Community School of the Arts and Discovery Place will each hire a full-time early childhood specialist who will co-design arts and science activities for school and home.

• Coach teachers: The specialists will rotate through all 49 Bethlehem Center classrooms to conduct one-on-one coaching for teachers. An intensive three-day professional development workshop for all Bethlehem Center teachers is also planned.

• Arrange field trips: Every Bethlehem class will visit Community School of the Arts Preschool Arts Lab and Discovery Place’s main uptown campus each year.

• Create kits and after-school activities: Community School of the Arts and Discovery Place will create activity kits to send home with parents on a regular basis. The kits will focus on arts and science activities families can do outside of school hours.

The grant also marks the local launch of “PNC Grow Up Great,” the $350 million, multi-year, bilingual initiative that began in 2004 to improve early childhood education for children from birth to age 5. To date, the program has served more than 1.5 million preschoolers, and PNC employees have logged more than 300,000 hours under a PNC policy that permits 40 hours a year of paid time off for volunteerism, officials said.

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September 4, 2015
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