June 29, 2022

Virginia Beach GrowSmart Foundation Awarded $75,000 for Early Childhood Education Innovation

Aimed at improving and supporting quality early learning environments, GrowSmart will expand Virginia Beach Talks program.

The Virginia Beach GrowSmart Foundation has been awarded a three-year, $75,000 grant from the Hampton Roads Community Foundation for early childhood education innovation. This grant is made possible by the Jeanne Atkinson Fund of the Hampton Roads Community Foundation, the John W. and Linda Vakos Fund of the Hampton Roads Community Foundation and the other generous donors of the Hampton Roads Community Foundation.

In 2019, Virginia Beach was one of five cities selected by Bloomberg Philanthropies to participate in a national grant to replicate the Providence Talks language development program for children ages 0-5 years. Like Providence Talks, Virginia Beach Talks uses LENA talk technology and data insights to measure and improve a child's language environment.

This funding will be used to expand the work of Virginia Beach Talks through LENA Grow early childhood professional development and coaching to support high-quality early learning environments. The goal is to improve the quality of early education in Virginia Beach and support the kindergarten readiness of children. LENA Grow offers strengths-based coaching and professional development for early childhood education providers.

"Preparing our children for the future is paramount to our mission and a core element of a thriving region," said Linda Rice, vice president for grantmaking at the Hampton Roads Community Foundation. "We are proud to fund nonprofits like GrowSmart because reaching developmental academic milestones is critical to a child's early success."

"Now, more than ever, it is vital that we invest in early education to address the negative impacts COVID has had on both our children and the childcare workforce," said Barb Lito, Virginia Beach GrowSmart Coordinator. "What an honor to receive funding from the Jeanne Atkinson Fund as well as the other generous donors. I love that the legacy of an early education trailblazer is inspiring continued innovation with our LENA Grow coaching program for early educators."

For more information about GrowSmart and its Virginia Beach Talks program, please visit vbgrowsmart.com.

About Virginia Beach GrowSmart

GrowSmart is operated through the Virginia Beach Department of Economic Development. GrowSmart exists to promote and improve the healthy development, school readiness and reading proficiency of young children ages 0-8. In addition to providing resources for parents and families, GrowSmart also offers programming to ensure the availability of high-quality early education.

About The Hampton Roads Community Foundation

The Hampton Roads Community Foundation is a charitable network of generous people, nonprofit partners, and civic leaders working to make Hampton Roads a thriving and more inclusive community for all.

Since 1950, the Foundation has awarded more than $344 million from its endowment fund in the form of grants to nonprofits and college scholarships to students in need. Through research, funding, and special programs, the Foundation brings the community together to tackle important regional concerns and to advance racial equity. Learn more at HamptonRoadsCF.org.

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