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Big Donation for Head Start from PNC

Kristine Sorensen
April05/ 2017

Preschool teachers across the region are buying school supplies and resources for their classrooms today.  They are doing that because PNC  “flash funded”  850 projects across the country yesterday — part of a $5 million grant toward helping kids “grow up great” — part of PNC’s Grow Up Great initiative.  The money is going to the website DonorsChoose.org, where teachers post the projects they want to have funded.  It’s like Kickstarter but for teachers.

Now, for the first time, teachers for Head Start, which offers preschool for low income, special needs and foreign students, are getting to use DonorsChoose.org because of PNC. One Head Start teacher in Carnegie, Alexis Pavolik, believes that teaching young children is about much more than letters and numbers.  “This lays the foundation for their view on education for the rest of their life, and they probably carry it over to their own kids too once they grow up,” she says.

Pavolik is thrilled that she and other Head Start teachers can now raise money on DonorsChoose.org.  The website has raised more than $533 million from 2.5 million donors for teachers’ projects at 75 % of public schools across the country.

That’s why the PNC foundation pushed DonorsChoose.org to include Head Start for the first time. PNC Foundation President Sally McCrady said, “To really represent what we’re trying to do, which is support high quality early childhood education in a variety of settings, we really wanted Head Start to be included as well.”

A recent survey of Head Start teachers found that 94% said they needed more resources to enrich their students, but 88% said they had to dig into their own pockets, up to $500 of their own money, to fund what they needed. Pavolik says she has paid for her own supplies and says most teachers she knows do too.

Whether it’s accepting donations of books or balls, Pavolik makes the most with what she has, but sometimes she’s limited because of money.

Now, PNC Foundation is helping fund her request on DonorsChoose.org for “family engagement backpacks” that the kids will take home for a week at a time.  “A lot of the children don’t have books and hands-on materials at home, just due to financial reasons or lack of ability to receive them,” Pavolik says.  She believes the backpacks will encourage the children to do fun, educational activities with their caregivers at home in a relaxed setting.

PNC Foundation is matching donations to pre-kindergarten requests in our area and other areas the bank serves in 22 states.  On DonorsChoose.org, you’ll find all kinds of projects you can help fund in our area, including a field trip to the zoo for kids who have never been there, education magazines for students, supplies to build a vegetable garden, calculators, basics like pencils and erasers, games to promote STEAM learning and outdoor toys.

Kristine Sorensen

I am proud to work at KDKA-TV -- anchoring the news, hosting Pittsburgh Today Live and doing special reports. I am married to KDKA reporter Marty Griffin and we have 3 children. I first moved to Pittsburgh in 1999 but I’ve lived in Dallas, Johnson City, Tenn., Chicago, Williamsburg, Va., Milwaukee and Winter Park, Fla. Pittsburgh is now the place I call home.

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