Evanston/Skokie School District 65 announced on July 14 that it was awarded a five-year Head Start grant by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The District will receive $2.65 million annually over the next five years to further support and expand early childhood programming and services for students and their families. This grant will unite the Early Head Start work of the Family Center (birth-age 3) and the Head Start work of the Early Childhood Education Center (ages 3-5 years) through one funding stream.

“We are thrilled to receive news of the grant award. This funding will allow us the opportunity to provide a seamless early childhood experience for our children and families,” said Paul Goren, superintendent of District 65. “Our faculty and staff at the Joseph E. Hill Early Childhood Center and Family Center have done a tremendous job over the years of supporting our youngest learners. We’re looking forward to continuing to build upon this foundation and supporting our students at this critical age.”

The District will provide Head Start center-based services to 259 children and their families annually through the Head Start grant. In the 2015-2016 school year, there will be a total of 180 children (ages 3-5 years) enrolled in Head Start preschool classrooms at the JEH Early Childhood Center and the Family Center will serve 24 infants and toddlers and their families through the Early Head Start program. This opportunity also formalizes a relationship with the Infant Welfare Society of Evanston, which is a partner in the grant and will be serving 55 infants, toddlers and their families at their location.  

District 65 was able to directly apply for the Head Start grant due to a change in the application process by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This change opened up the competitive application process for Head Start funds in the northern suburbs which had not been done for many years. While the District has offered Head Start programming for over 45 years, it was made possible through intermediary organizations. As a direct grant recipient, it is estimated that the District will save approximately $250,000 annually.

As a partner in the Evanston Cradle to Career initiative, the creation of an early childhood education pipeline is an important step in the implementation of the collective impact model. “We look forward to continuing our relationships with our community partners to provide much needed programming and services to the children and families of Evanston and Skokie. Over the next several years, we will work together to find meaningful ways to support our early childhood families,” said Dr. Goren. District 65 is one of over 25 partners involved in the initiative to mobilize community assets and make a lasting difference in the lives of our community’s children, youth, and families.