The Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence has earned the support of the Pew Center on the States for a fourth year in its work to improve the educational and economic success of Kentucky by expanding access to quality preschool programs for more children in the state.

The statewide organization has received a $200,000 grant from Pew, $25,000 of which is contingent on raising matching funds, for work in 2010 to bring advocates, policy and business leaders, and service providers together to develop strategies for expanding quality early education programs through Prichard’s Strong Start Kentucky initiative.

Strong Start Kentucky advocates for quality, voluntary Pre-K for all 3- and 4-year-old Kentucky children through collaborative efforts that involve public, community-based and Head Start programs.

Kentucky’s preschool program currently serves 3- and 4-year olds with disabilities and 4-year-old children whose families earn an income 150 percent or less of the federal poverty level or about $33,000 a year for a family of four.

Expanding access to quality Pre-K is essential to Kentucky’s economic future. For that reason, the Prichard Committee is using $50,000 of its grant from the Partnership for America’s Economic Success, which is managed by Pew, to build its statewide Business Leadership Council for Pre-K. The committee
is working with the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce to develop this group to support key state business leaders as they promote the economic development and return on investment benefits of providing quality Pre-K to 3- and 4-year-olds.