Wiregrass Tech, several counties share million dollar grant

Wiregrass Tech, several counties share million dollar grant

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - Wiregrass Georgia Technical College along with Brooks, Colquitt, Cook, Echols, and Lowndes Counties have been selected as the recipients of a $1.2 million grant that will aid in increasing access to early childhood care and education programs for children and their families.

The region was selected as one of Georgia's four Early Education Empowerment Zones (E3Zs). A community commitment ceremony happens at 9:30 a.m. at Brooks Hall on the Valdosta Campus of Wiregrass Georgia Technical College.

Early Education Empowerment Zones or E3Z's are regions of the state that have agreed to work in partnership with the Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) and other state agencies to pilot early education system reform initiatives and partnerships to support better outcomes for young children. Wiregrass Georgia Technical College and the selected counties will receive over $1 million in targeted resources and will participate in research that will help the state identify sustainable and replicable implementation strategies that can be scaled statewide.

Funding for the E3Z initiative is part of the $51.7 million Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant received last year by Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning from the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"We are excited to begin this collaboration to create additional learning opportunities for the children we serve in the four selected counties," stated Dr. Shawn Utley, Executive Vice President of Wiregrass Georgia Technical College. "On behalf of the team we want to thank the Department of Early Care and Learning for selecting our communities and college to participate in this program and we look forward to reporting great outcomes during the course of the grant."

The E3Z initiative will be implemented over the three-year period. Georgia's grant includes a variety of projects, all of which focus on improving services to Georgia's children from birth to age eight and their families. While DECAL is the lead agency for the grant, the work will be accomplished through partnerships with other state and federal agencies and non-profit organizations. Bibb County, Clarke County, and a Northern County Zone (Catoosa, Whitfield, Murray, Gordan and Gilmer) were also selected as E3Z locations.

Wiregrass Georgia Technical College offers technical certificate of credit, diploma, and associate degree programs in the field of early childhood care and learning. The college also offers continuing education and Bright from the Start training programs for current early childcare learning facilities. This grant will enable the college to work with the selected communities, public and private early childcare providers, public and private Pre-K programs, and other organizations on methods to increase access to educational opportunities for those up to age 8.

The public is invited to attend the community commitment ceremony on October 2 at 9:30 a.m. at Wiregrass Georgia Technical College. For more information please call 229-219-1294.

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