June 26, 2014 at 11:21 pm

Detroit agency gets $125M in federal funds for Head Start expansion

A Detroit nonprofit has been awarded $125 million in federal funds over five years to provide education and other services to preschoolers and their families under a Head Start pilot program.

Matrix Human Services plans to formally announce the grant from the Health & Human Services Administration for Children and Families during a news conference Friday morning in Detroit.

The funds will allow Matrix to double its number of centers in Detroit from 14 to 28 by January 2015, with room for 1,927 children 5 and under and their families, up from 1,369 last year. The Matrix Head Start program offers services 48 weeks a year at centers in southwest, east and central Detroit.

“The most important lifelong gift we can give to our children is to provide the support their parents need to move out of poverty,” Marcella Wilson, president and CEO of Matrix Human Services, said in a statement.

She added: “We provide children with shelter, nutrition, education and a support system that branches out to their parents and caretakers.”

Matrix’s “Transition to Success” program coordinates care for basic needs, literacy, education – including GED and higher education for parents – financial literacy and volunteerism.

Last week, a collaborative led by Starfish Family Services was awarded $60 million in Head Start funds over the next five years to serve nearly 1,000 children and families in Detroit annually.

The partnership is with Development Centers Inc.; Focus: HOPE; and Southwest Solutions. A fifth organization, HighScope Educational Research Foundation, will provide curriculum, professional development, and evaluation support.

The national Birth to Five pilot program award funding is the first of its kind in Michigan, with Detroit chosen as one of only five communities in the U.S. to participate. Others receiving funds are Baltimore; Jersey City, New Jersey; Sunflower County, Mississippi, and Washington, D.C.

“This is an exciting time for kids and families in Detroit,” said Starfish CEO Ann Kalass.

The grant award for the Detroit pilot program comes weeks after Detroit Public Schools cited “technical difficulties” for missing a deadline to apply for an estimated $4 million in Head Start funds for the coming school year.