PNC grant will also fund learning programs
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Feb. 4, 2016) — The PNC Foundation today announced the launch of a $350,000, three-year grant to assist with the construction of a permanent early learning play space at the Louisville Zoo. The grant also will fund two new programs geared toward addressing kindergarten readiness gaps defined by 2014-15 Kentucky Kindergarten Readiness Assessment report.
The Cub House, the zoo’s new early learning play space, will be a part of the Snow Leopard exhibit set to open in 2018 with the full exhibit opening in 2019. The grant also will allow the zoo to expand its education programming to establish a new platform for early childhood education while also providing unique experiences for young children, including nose-to-nose encounters with endangered animals such as the Snow Leopard.
“Science is a cornerstone of a child’s development,” said Chuck Denny, PNC regional president for Greater Louisville. “Our partnership with the zoo builds upon PNC’s long-term commitment to provide early learning opportunities for our youngest children so they are ready for school.”
The initiative is part of PNC Grow Up Great, a program that helps children from birth to age 5 prepare for school. PNC offers employees 40 hours of paid time off a year to volunteer in Grow Up Great early education programs.
The zoo’s early childhood programming will include two pilot programs: one with the George Unseld Early Learning Center (GUELC) and the other with a small group of Louisville Zoo member families with children ages 3 to 5 who are not currently enrolled in a preschool.
GUELC will include classroom kits, zoo educator visits, teacher training and Zoo-venture outings for families. Both programs will support kindergarten readiness and promote child-centered learning while fostering the development of 21st century learning skills that offer connections to simple math, economics, science, culture, and the ecology of the Himalayas.
“PNC’s funding will help us provide a new innovative play space for our youngest learners with top notch early childhood programming as we expand our education offerings,” said Louisville Zoo director John Walczak. “We’re thrilled to partner with PNC in contributing to the advancement of early childhood education in our community. It’s these early memory-making moments that children have with animals that help build the foundation for our mission of bettering the bond between people and our planet.”
The Cub House will be an early learning space featuring numerous ways to play, explore, investigate and discover. The center will include places to observe snow leopards and explore an ice cave; visit a Nepalese-themed marketplace; play and discover skills in a technology zone; and expand their imaginations in a story time nook and an art sensory area.