New partnership, grant will support Lowndes County children until kindergarten


Melinda Lowe

Melinda Lowe


Greg Carlyle

Greg Carlyle



MUW University Relations



A community-based collaboration between the Rotary Club of Columbus and Mississippi University for Women's School of Education will prepare children to start school happy, healthy and equipped to succeed.


In celebration of their 100th anniversary, the Rotary Club of Columbus recently approved a $40,000 grant to launch Bright From the Start. The partnership between the two entities will support local preschools, families in Lowndes County with children from birth to the age of 5 and the Early Childhood Development program at The W.


"Early childhood is the key to the success of our future workforce and community. Research says that 90 percent of the critical brain growth happens from birth to age 5. When we invest in high-quality early childhood programming, we set children on the road to success," said Melinda Lowe, director of Outreach & Innovation at The W.



A portion of the grant will provide for a progressive resource room for community members to check out materials to support and engage with young children. With help from Penny Mansell, director of the Child and Parent Development Center at The W, Lowe said the planned materials included are literacy kits, STEM and STEAM materials, cultural awareness curriculum and social-emotional curriculum.


"We are also investing in our early childhood workforce. We plan to celebrate all local essential childcare workers and provide in-depth training to strengthen classrooms across the county. Early childhood professionals are essential. The goal of this program is to not only support the parents, children and caregivers, but also support the preparation of our future teachers and childcare providers," explained Lowe.



Three phases


The Bright From Start program will work in three phases from 2020-2021. Phase 1, beginning fall 2020, will focus on providing the tools needed to ensure children up to 5 years of age are prepared to enter kindergarten by establishing the Bright From the Start Resource Lending Library. In spring of 2021, Phase 2 will feature the Bright From the Start Early Childhood Educators Conference. All local early childhood teachers will be eligible to receive quality face-to-face professional development and training on state and national standards and best practices.


Phase 3 will provide every baby born at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle a board book and an early literacy and a booklet detailing community resources through the Bright From the Start Welcome Baby Kits in Spring of 2021.


"The Rotary Club of Columbus is excited to partner with the School of Education as they strive to meet the learning needs of local families and their children from infancy to 5 years of age. It is a commendable vision to have all children in Lowndes County ready upon entering kindergarten. Our Rotarians are anxious to support the program through various volunteer initiatives such as packing the Welcome Baby kits, facilitating a book drive and reading to children," said Greg Carlyle, president of the Rotary Club of Columbus.




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