For immediate release
Contact: Maureen Dowdle

Housatonic Community College Receives Grant
United Way of Coastal Fairfield County Funds Summer Kindergarten Pilot Program

Bridgeport, CT, July 1, 2008. Barbara Johnson, president of the Housatonic Foundation, Inc., has announced funding from United Way of Coastal Fairfield County to support a pilot program, Kick Off to Kindergarten. The program, which will be held at the Early Childhood Laboratory School at Housatonic Community College, will enroll four-year old children with no preschool experience at no cost into a six-week session starting on July 14.

The primary focus of the pilot program is to work on personal and social behaviors, and language and literacy skills that pre-school children will be able to develop through the structure of the program. The school will be in session from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Breakfast and lunch will be provided. One member of the staff will be available for every five children.

Dr. Laurie Noe, Housatonic Early Childhood Education Program Coordinator says, “This is a very important program that meets an urgent, long-time need in the community. We will use this year to determine the best way to run the program and make recommendations for next year when we hope it will be replicated throughout the city.”

Children will be pre- and post-tested to determine the learning effectiveness of the program and to monitor improvement. They will also have take-home books and other materials. Parents will participate in three workshops that will give them information to support their children’s education.

Merle Berke-Schlessel, Esq., president and CEO of United Way of Coastal Fairfield County says, “United Way is thrilled to be partnering with Housatonic on this pilot program. One of our major focus areas is Education and Early Learning in particular. We know that learning truly begins when a child is born. The more children can build their capacity to earn early on, the more successful they will be in the future.”

James A. Crispino, Ph.D., United Way’s Chief Impact and Operating Officer adds, “The curriculum for the program was developed by a city-wide collaboration, including the Leadership in Action Program, the Bridgeport Alliance for Young Children, The Bridgeport Board of Education, and Housatonic Community College. We have been partnering with these groups to implement the Bridgeport Blueprint for Young Children. We are delighted that Housatonic provides us with the setting and the staff to initiate this pilot and grow it to a viable, city-wide program.”

A few places are still available for children to enroll in the program. Space is limited. Those interested should phone Heidi Szobota at 332-5030.

About the Housatonic Community College Foundation

The Housatonic Community College Foundation was formed in 1990 to assist the College and its students beyond the fundamentals provided by the state. The Foundation provides resources for scholarships, equipment, program enhancements, community outreach and support for the Housatonic Museum of Art. The College provides convenient and affordable post-secondary training and life-long learning to those in the Bridgeport area.

About United Way of Coastal Fairfield County

United Way of Coastal Fairfield County’s mission is: “Together, we mobilize our communities to improve people’s lives.” Our vision is to advance the common good by creating opportunities for a better life for all. Working with many partners, United Way is focused on the building blocks that we all need for a good life; a quality education that leads to a stable job, income that can support a family through retirement, and good health. Find our more on the new website coming soon,