HONOLULU (KHON2) — Two hundred children in Hawaii will have access to free pre-K education at home thanks to a donation from the TED organization. The philanthropic dollars have positioned nonprofit Waterford.org to bring its research-based program to the Aloha State.
“When a child begins school behind his or her peers, it’s very hard to catch up. It’s even harder for children from marginalized communities or for families whose native language is not English,” Waterford.org national spokesperson Kim Fischer said in a statement.
According to the nonprofit, there are roughly 2.2 million 4-year-olds who have no access to publicly funded early education across the U.S.
Waterford is one of eight nonprofits in the world distinguished as a 2019 TED Audacious Project. It is tasked with reaching even more 4-year-olds lacking access to pre-K education, including 200 children in Hawaii.
Through its Waterford Upstart program, underserved families are given an at-home, early education solution, which includes a computer that they get to keep at the end. Waterford even provides internet access if a household needs it.
Caregivers are given the tools to become the first and most influential teachers, receiving support through a coach who offers tips on how to engage children offline. The program delivers online instruction 15 minutes a day, five days a week. There is no financial cost.
According to Waterford’s research, 92% of children who participate in this program are ready for kindergarten, compared to a 65% average nationwide. That number is even lower for children who qualify for free meals at school.
“We know there are barriers to access in communities across Hawaii,” Fischer said. “We want to help fill those gaps with this at-home program so children can walk into their first day of class confident and ready to learn.”
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Click here to apply for the program. Registration is open for children entering kindergarten in the fall of 2023. Applications are open through May.