Grant targets preschool classes

Published 6:13 pm Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Obici partners with UVA in initiative

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

The Obici Healthcare Foundation is investing $1 million to improve the quality of more than 50 preschool classrooms, to include Isle of Wight County schools. 

The initiative will include a specialized curriculum, along with professional development for preschool teachers and administrators, and other supports for implementing the program beginning this fall. 

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The new initiative is a partnership between the Obici Healthcare Foundation and the University of Virginia, and is geared for young children in the Western Tidewater region, according to the Obici Foundation. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Overall, the Commonwealth is putting $6 million statewide toward the early childhood education initiative.  

It will also use state-appropriated funds to implement the programs, which includes the Virginia Kindergarten Readiness Program, at the preschool level.

The program assesses a child’s readiness for school in math, self-regulation and social skills. 

“This is an incredible opportunity to support our efforts in creating high quality experiences for our preschool students,” said Dr. Jim Thornton, Superintendent of Isle of Wight County Schools in a press release. 

“The resources and professional development we will receive through this partnership will better prepare our youngest learners for success in school,” he said.

Obici’s contribution to the kindergarten readiness initiative, in addition to Isle of Wight County, also includes pilot preschool programs in the cities of Suffolk and Franklin and Surry and Southampton counties. 

Additional efforts, such as observing and enhancing the quality of preschool programs, will be implemented in Head Start, faith-based and private classrooms. 

The STREAMin3 curriculum, which brings science, technology, reading, engineering, arts and math to the preschool classroom, will be funded by Obici in Head Start and Virginia Preschool Initiative classrooms. 

The Virginia Department of Social Services will fund the pilot STEAMin3 curriculum in private and faith-based classrooms. 

The project is led by the University of Virginia Curry School of Education, and local coaches will be hired and trained for the programs. 

The goal for the early childhood education initiative in the next three to five years is improved kindergarten readiness and improved third grade SOL scores, according to Obici. Beyond that, and combined with other programs, is the goal to lower emergency room admissions, improve graduation rates and quality of life and decrease mortality, diabetes and health disease, according to Obici.

The decision to invest in early childhood education is the result of a 2017 Community Needs Assessment conducted by the Obici Foundation. As a result, the Foundation decided to invest 50 percent of its grant funding to access to healthcare and the other half to prevention. 

“Improving early childhood education can enhance the quality of life and have a significant influence on later health status,” according to the Obici Foundation. 

Other components of the prevention initiative include supporting programs that address new and expanded opportunities for better nutrition and increased physical activity, as well as programs that help individuals develop skills to become more effective and sustainable. 

The Obici Healthcare Foundation is a private foundation established in 2006 from the sale of Louise Obici Memorial Hospital to Sentara Healthcare. Since its inception, the Foundation has awarded more than $46 million in grant funding. For additional information, visit or call 539-8810.  {/mprestriction}