September 4, 2014 at 11:15 pm

Four Detroit agencies to share $2M for Head Start programs

Nearly $2 million in grants from local philanthropic groups will be awarded to four Detroit agencies participating in a federally funded Head Start pilot program for preschoolers living in poverty.

On Tuesday, the Southeast Michigan Early Childhood Funders Collaborative will distribute the first of $4 million in grants to be awarded over the next two years to agencies participating in the national Head Start program, aimed at educating impoverished children from birth to 5 years old.

The organizations being awarded the Funders Collaborative grants are Matrix Human Services, Metropolitan Children and Youth, New St. Paul Tabernacle and Starfish Family Services. Starfish is the lead partner for a consortium of Head Start agencies, including Southwest Solutions, Focus: HOPE and the Community Development Institute.

The $2 million in grants coincides with federal funds from the Health & Human Services Administration for Children and Families awarded in June to the area agencies. Over the next five years, Starfish will be awarded $60 million and Matrix Human Services will receive $125 million from the federal government.

Detroit has been chosen as one of five communities to participate in the Head Start “Birth to Five” pilot program. Others are Baltimore; Jersey City, New Jersey; Sunflower County, Mississippi, and Washington, D.C.

The funds for the Detroit pilot program come two months 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.

According to a press release, the grants provide for “intensive teacher training and coaching for staff, innovative strategies for improving birth and health outcomes for children and to provide children with high-quality education while supporting parents with educational and economic resources.”

The funds also will allow recipients to participate in a Learning Network to build best practices among the agencies and a shared data collection effort, according to the release.

Members of the Funders Collaborative are the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, the Skillman Foundation, the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, the McGregor Fund, the Jewish Fund and the PNC Foundation.

The grants will be presented at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Matrix Head Start Cecil Center, 5690 Cecil, Suite 103.

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