Sojourner’s Truth Staff
Local government, education and business leaders joined HOPE Toledo President John C. Jones to announce a joint $20 million investment in a pre-kindergarten education program that the nonprofit organization will spearhead.
The funds will help expand current Pre-K programs to grow the program’s enrollment to 1,000 more students over the next three years. Currently the program has funding for 200 four-year-old students, although only 130 are presently enrolled.
During a morning press conference at Quality Time Child Care Center on Dorr Street, Jones, Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz, Lucas County Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak and Toledo Public Schools Superintendent Romulus Durant, EdD, spoke of the great need to prepare pre-school youth for kindergarten and how such funds would be utilized.
HOPE Toledo, which launched its Pre-K Demonstration project about a month ago with the assistance of ProMedica and TPS, serves those 130 youngsters through 10 community child care centers which follow a set curriculum in small classes and with family engagement.
“This is an innovative example of a public/private partnership,” said Jones.
Kapszukiewicz noted that “Toledo lags behind all other big cities in Ohio and is the only city that all youngsters don’t have access to pre-K … 80 percent of four-year olds do not pass state readiness [assessments] for kindergarten.”
HOPE Toledo’s formation is a result of an investment by Pete Kadens, a former Ottawa Hills resident now living in Chicago, who announced in January 2020 that he was funding the college expenses for the Scott High School graduating class of 2020 and a parent or guardian from each family. There are now more than 100 such Scott Alumni enrolled in college and 25 parents in college or technical schools.
“We know the value to children, to the community and the economy when we have children prepared for kindergarten,” said Skeldon Wozniak.
The bulk of the $20 million will be provided by the City of Toledo and Lucas County using funds from the American Rescue Plan. Kapszukiewicz will be presenting his spending proposal to city council for the $180 million ARP monies on October 13. The County will be matching the City’s funds for HOPE Toledo.