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Richmond’s mayor provides grant to explore universal preschool, could start in fall 2024

At the Children’s Museum of Richmond, Mayor Levar Stoney announced a $50,000 grant to the Children’s Funding Project, among others.
Published: May. 12, 2022 at 3:36 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - At the Children’s Museum of Richmond, Mayor Levar Stoney announced a $50,000 grant to the Children’s Funding Project, among others.

The goal is to complete a study on the concept to see how many children would benefit from a universal preschool and how much it would cost.

“Basically looks at local ecosystems, identifies ways to fund these programs and determine how much it costs, because I may be able to tell you how many 3 or 4-year-olds we have, (but) I can’t tell you how many of them would use a program if it was made available,” said Eva Colen of the City of Richmond Office of Children and Families.

The mayor is pushing school readiness to prepare all children for kindergarten by supporting birth-to-age-five programming. The years before a child enters kindergarten can directly impact a child’s ability to thrive in kindergarten and beyond.

“Together we will accomplish so much for so many families all across our city, northside, east end, southside, and the west end. We will do that by all of us working together to ensure all children across the city have each and every opportunity to thrive,” said Stoney.

Stoney also announced the addition of an early childhood specialist. Daphne Bolotas will be supporting the coordination of the efforts to universalize preschool in Richmond.

“Early childhood education really makes a difference when it comes to preparedness to learn in older grades,” said Daphne Bolotas, early childhood specialist.

After the study, and if the funding is there, universal preschool could be a reality in Richmond by the fall of 2024.

“Children who are in programming, in high-quality programming, really get the leg up when it comes to furthering their education later on,” said Bolotas.

The Children’s Museum of Richmond also received a $50,000 grant to expand museum access to low-income families.

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