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Creation of New Fund to Support Educational Initiatives

Monday, December 18th, 2017

 Johnson Park Center (JPC) Announces Creation of New Fund to Support Educational Initiatives


UTICA, NY – Through the generosity of several donors, The Friends of Johnson Park Center Education Fund was created at The Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties to exclusively benefit the Johnson Park Center's educational programs, such as the Head, Hand and Heart Program.


Johnson Park Center seeks to help children from the Cornhill neighborhood in Utica achieve success. Data shows that children who are ready for kindergarten are more likely to stay in school, graduate, maintain a pattern of academic success, and remove themselves from the cycle of poverty.


"Programs like Head, Hand, and Heart establish a solid foundation for children to learn and achieve throughout their education," said Alicia Dicks, president/CEO of The Community Foundation. "Every child deserves the opportunity to start school with the skills they need to be successful and Johnson Park Center is helping to make this a reality in our community."


In January 2015, Johnson Park Center created the Head, Hand and Heart Program, a family enrichment program designed for low income, high need families. The program focuses on literacy, learning and school readiness for children ages 3 to 5. Participation in the Head, Hand and Heart program gives children the opportunity to learn and grow in a safe, supportive environment.


"In the neighborhood, we've seen children who aren't even able to write their names because they are so far behind," said Rev. Dr. Maria A. Scates, D.D., Johnson Park Center CEO/founder. "That's why what we do here in Johnson Park is so important – it gives children the opportunity to work with technology that they otherwise would not have. Now when they go to school at 5-years-old they will be on par with the other children."


The Head, Hand and Heart Program has seen significant improvement in children's progress and readiness for school. Johnson Park Center uses the Brigance evaluation system to quantify children's growth throughout their participation in the program. In 2016, all students' scores improved between the initial and final assessments, increasing on average by 7.4 points on a 100-point scale.


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