A coalition of the Metro United Way’s local partners may compete for the $15 million Head Start grant relinquished by JCPS.
The Ready for K Alliance is “convening cross-sector partners to understand the opportunities and challenges of applying” for the Jefferson County Head Start grant, Metro United Way’s Vice President of Early Childhood Success Amy Neal told Insider.
The alliance’s partner organizations, in part, include Mayor Greg Fischer’s office, Metro Louisville Health Department, the YMCA and Family and Children’s Place, Neal said. CE&S and Lift a Life Foundation are also involved, providing funding so a team from the alliance can attend National Head Start Association training next week, Neal said.
“Investing early is a smart investment,” Neal told Insider via email. “The Ready for K Alliance has learned, matured and evolved over the last four years. As a collective, we have focused on many of the same challenges that the Head Start grant addresses. This is an opportunity to grow what has proven to work to ensure more children enter kindergarten ready to experience success.”
One of the alliance’s biggest strengths, Neal said, is a commitment to “individual and shared accountability.”
“Through both direct service and system change, we can ensure more children are healthy, more children have access to quality child care, more families have resources and networks of support and more children experience success in school,” Neal said.
After JCPS voluntarily gave up the grant in late May amid a series of abuse allegations, the Administration for Children and Families said that it would reopen the grant for bidding so that the grant could stay in Jefferson County. The national office didn’t provide a timeline for applications.
At least one other area organization, the Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative, has publicly said it was considering going after the grant. OVEC runs Head Start programs in multiple surrounding counties, including Oldham and Shelby Counties. OVEC is also one of the alliance’s partner organizations, Neal said.
A lot of questions remain as the plan is still in the beginning stages, Neal said. Neal isn’t sure how the grant, if awarded, would be split between partner organizations, or if any of JCPS’ former third party partners would be retained. Around 30 people were laid off at partner organizations when JCPS gave up the grant.
The group is working with “key leaders,” Neal said, including JCPS officials, to answer some of those questions and “ensure that our community is equipped with the right technical expertise and experience to plan for and deliver the best administrative leadership and comprehensive program delivery for healthy, thriving children and families.”