Bulloch County Schools has been awarded a $125,000 Community Transformation Grant from the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL). The district says the grant will be used to increase literacy and access to early learning for children in rural areas.
Bulloch County Schools was one of 26 organizations who received a grant for 2023. The grant program assists community collaboratives with their initiatives that address the critical needs of children ages birth to eight years old and their families. The school district wrote the grant to support and expand the work of the Bulloch County Literacy Council and its Bulloch READ initiative and to further provide literacy resources and training to early learning professionals in Bulloch County.
“Receiving this award is a great honor,” said Crystal Simpkins, director of early learning and literacy for the school district. “The Bulloch County Literacy Council has worked to bring awareness and educate parents and the community on the importance of early literacy. This grant will allow us to continue our work, and we look forward to increasing access to high-quality early childhood programs for all children living in Bulloch County.”
Formed in 2020, The Bulloch County Literacy Council is a community collaborative of educators, representatives from local literacy organizations, business and civic organization leaders, and volunteers. Its purpose is to sustain the collaborative and its work to increase Kindergarten readiness for students from birth through Pre-Kindergarten and to support the improvement of literacy levels for all children in Kindergarten through fifth grade. The Council’s Bulloch READ initiative focuses on the following:
• Reading: Encourage the creation of Reading nooks.
• Environment: Encourage a literacy-rich Environment.
• Access: Increase Access to book and reading resources.
• Development: Increase early brain Development.
The grant recipients were selected through a rigorous application process that included submitting a proposal that detailed their experience and capabilities, and the projects they plan to develop in response to a focus area that matched an identified need in their area. For Bulloch County, literacy and increasing access to high-quality early childhood programs for children is the focus.
“We congratulate and thank the Community Transformation Grant recipients for developing such worthwhile and impactful initiatives,” said DECAL Commissioner Amy M. Jacobs. “Through the 26 Grant awards, DECAL is helping these community partnerships move the needle in serving the most pressing needs of young children and families across Georgia.”
The term of the grant is 18 months, but DECAL hopes that many of the funded projects will be expanded or scaled-up over time. The Grants were created in 2021 to encourage the creation of early education partnerships composed of community agencies and other stakeholders that would design, tailor, and implement innovative projects to increase access to and the quality of early childhood services and resources. The 26 grants were funded under the American Rescue Plan and are directed to the birth-to-8 population. DECAL has engaged Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students (GEEARS) to conduct an independent evaluation of the Community Transformation Grant program.
The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) is responsible for meeting the child care and early education needs of Georgia’s children and their families. It administers the nationally recognized Georgia Pre-Kindergarten Program, licenses child care centers and home-based child care, administers Georgia’s Childcare and Parent Services (CAPS) program and federal nutrition programs, and manages Quality Rated, Georgia’s community-powered child care rating system. The department also houses the Head Start State Collaboration Office, distributes federal funding to enhance the quality and availability of child care, and works collaboratively with Georgia child care resource and referral agencies and organizations throughout the state to enhance early care and education.