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Zeist Foundation Makes Grant to Baby Steps

Atlanta Foundation Awards Grant to Community Foundation for Baby Steps Early Literacy Initiative

The Communities of Coastal Georgia is pleased to announce that the Zeist Foundation based in Atlanta has awarded a grant to fund a part-time coordinator position for the community foundation’s Baby Steps early literacy initiative. “For an Atlanta foundation to recognize the potential our initiative holds to improve kindergarten readiness is tremendous affirmation,” explained Chairman Rees Sumerford.   “A nonprofit must be invited to submit a proposal and it must address the needs of at risk children, youth, and families in the areas of education, arts & culture or health & human services. Zeist looks for evidence of collaboration and innovation – and the trustees felt that they found both in our community-wide literacy initiative.

The early literacy initiative, begun here in 2010 as a response to a community-wide needs assessment that named the quality of education as the number one concern in the community, has grown to require the skills of a coordinator. “We have experienced a tremendous response both in the efforts of the advisory council and also in offers of volunteerism from residents. We have defined specific projects and programs that will move the needle on kindergarten readiness, and it is very apparent that we now need a “conductor” to orchestrate it all,” explained community foundation director Lee Owen.

Baby Steps addresses four focus areas: access to books and a vocabulary rich environment for children from birth to age five; improving the quality of local child care facilities; encouraging screening for early learning disabilities; and encouraging parents to embrace their role as their children’s first and most important teacher. The initiative is a collaborative effort with the St. Simons Island Rotary Club.