FRANKFORT, Ky. (Sept. 25, 2012) – Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky, Inc. announced today $115,000 in funding to expand an innovative program to help create quality early learning opportunities for young children and their families.
The grant, presented by the auto manufacturer to United Way of Kentucky during a news conference at the capitol, will go toward the establishment of Toyota bornlearning Academies in 10 Kentucky elementary schools. The Toyota bornlearning Academies will help teach parents and caregivers of children from prenatal to 5 years old how to turn everyday moments into learning opportunities.
The 10 elementary schools are Hiseville Elementary in Glasgow; Crabbe Elementary in Ashland; Burgin Elementary in Burgin; May Valley Elementary in Prestonsburg; Grandview Elementary in Bellevue; East Calloway Elementary in Murray; H.W. Wilkey Elementary in Leitchfield; Berea Elementary in Berea; Farley Elementary in Paducah; and Boston Elementary in New Haven.
Toyota has also committed to adding five more academies over the next four years.
The bornlearning Academy is an innovative approach to early childhood development and parent engagement. The Academy utilizes bornlearning materials created by United Way Worldwide and a workshop model developed by Tim Hanner, retired school superintendent, United Way of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky University. The partnership grew to include the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence and United Way of Kentucky. Statewide expansion of the model would not be possible without the commitment from Toyota.
“It’s so important that young people be prepared to learn when they enter school,” said Wil James, TMMK president. “Yet, we all know that too many children are unprepared upon enrollment, and it is a difficult struggle for them to ever catch up. The Toyota bornlearning Academies will help parents become more aware of how their young children learn.”
Each of the 10 Toyota bornlearning Academies will serve as a fun and innovative community resource for parents and teachers to collaborate in early childhood development and explore ways children can learn through everyday interaction. Monthly school-based workshops will provide parents with tools to help their children succeed in kindergarten and beyond.
“Improving early education opportunities for Kentucky’s youngest citizens helps ensure their future success in the classroom and beyond,” said Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear.
The bornlearning Academies dovetail with Beshear’s emphasis on early childhood education. In 2011, he created the Governor’s Early Childhood Advisory Council to unite stakeholders behind common strategies, standards and goals for Kentucky’s early childhood system and to advocate for improved quality of early childhood services and improved school readiness. The bornlearning Academies are an ideal pairing of public and private agencies to create a stronger learning environment for Kentucky’s children, said Terry Tolan, the executive director of the administration’s Office of Early Childhood.
Doug Eberhart, president of United Way of Kentucky, said Toyota’s commitment to creating 10 such academies in Kentucky is an important step in raising the state’s overall educational attainment.
“The engagement of young children through learning provides long-term benefits for the children, their schools, their communities and the state as a whole,” Eberhart said. “We are grateful for Toyota’s foresight and long-term commitment to education in Kentucky.”
Toyota employs about 6,600 team members at its Georgetown manufacturing plant; another 1,800 work at its North American manufacturing headquarters operation in Erlanger. Team members commute from 39 counties.
Toyota’s largest plant in North America, Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky Inc. started production in May 1988. It produces the Camry, Camry Hybrid, Avalon and Venza, as well as four-cylinder and V-6 engines and other engine components. Since 1987, TMMK has donated more than $42 million to Kentucky organizations.