DETROIT — State Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (D-Detroit) held a press conference last Friday alongside a number of educational administrators, community activists and area stakeholders to announce grant funding that would allow for the launch of a kindergarten readiness pilot project in the district. State Rep. Pamela Hornberger (R-Chesterfield Township), chair of the House Education Committee, Detroit Public School Community District (DPSCD) Superintendent Nikolai Vitti and Wayne County RESA Superintendent Randy Liepa were also in attendance.

“As a former educator and educational professional myself, I spent many years working on kindergarten readiness, including work through UCLA’s KRA programming,” said Rep. Gay-Dagnogo. “It is critical to be proactive when working to prepare our bright young minds, because it is far easier to equip them with the tools and knowledge they need before they set foot in a classroom than it is to try and remediate the problem when they arrive far behind their peers. I’m extremely excited to launch this pilot, as it will take a community-centered approach that recognizes whether or not we’re parents or even know students in the classroom, we all have something to gain by ensuring the next generation of thinkers, leaders, doctors, scientists and innovators are achieving their fullest potentials.”

“I was honored to join Rep. Gay-Dagnogo for the Michigan Reads Launch,” said Rep. Hornberger. “These wonderful community groups coming together to focus on students and their families will have a positive impact for generations. Programs like this need to be replicated throughout our state.”

The pilot project will implement a community volunteer system to get simple information from the Great Start Collaborative with basic, clear action steps to families with children between the ages of 0-3. The volunteers, or “trusted messengers” will be trained to work with parents by meeting them in the community and providing information about science-tested best practices and opportunities for simple things parents can do to make a difference in their child’s development. The pilot project will be funded by a $250,000 grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to pay for the messenger training, program coordinators and the educational materials parents will be provided with.

“When our Legislature unites around children, as demonstrated by the announcement of the Michigan Reads initiative, it is a key indicator that we are moving in the right direction—toward students first,” said Superintendent Vitti. “The need is great in Detroit and with this initiative we are moving one step closer to closing gaps that have existed for far too long.”

“We are so excited that this idea has become a reality through the state grant secured by Rep. Gay-Dagnogo,” said Superintendent Lipea. “Outreach to parents with young children, sharing with them simple, manageable things they can do with their children, will have them better prepared when they come to school.  This is an unmet need in our communities, and if we are successful, will make for a generation of stronger readers.”