UTICA – Five-year-old Aaron Howard almost shivers with excitement while rattling off his morning routine.
“No, I don’t play on the bus. I ride on the bus,” he adds, eyes widening.
“I put my seat belt on,” he continues, jumping up and down.
Once at the Thea Bowman House where Aaron attends pre-kindergarten classes, his day keeps getting better.
“I play,” he exclaims. “I learn. I know about my ABCs and my numbers. And I be real smart and good and quiet.”
Grant allows nonprofit to serve more
If it weren’t for the 35-passenger school bus that picks Aaron up each morning, he and his peers may not have the chance to attend the universal pre-kindergarten classes offered by the Thea Bowman House, which serve economically-challenged and working families. The Universal Pre-K program is funded by the Utica City School District. In fact, the school bus – recently funded by The Community Foundation – has reduced costs, allows more learning time and has increased regular attendance as well as the number of students served.
“We are now able to provide safe transportation for many that would never have it, and for many children if they didn’t have the transportation they wouldn’t go to school,” says Site Director Sandy Wright.
New transportation equals better learning
Before receiving the $55,000 grant from The Foundation, the House used a small van that took several trips to pick up all students. The frequent trips cut into students’ learning time, and in some cases, students without transportation to school had to be turned away. Often, children without reliable transportation would regularly miss school because of the family’s inability to bring the child to the school.
“We realize how imperative early childhood education is and we need to make every effort to make sure we are giving each child in our community an equal opportunity at success,” Wright says. “Providing reliable and safe transportation – thanks to The Community Foundation – allows us one more way of evening the educational playing field for our children.”PHOTOS courtesy of Anthony Rabasca, Anthony’s Eye.