Starke County


Kindergarten Countdown Benefits Twenty Students in Knox Area
Thanks the Knox Community Schools, IU Health and the Starke United Fund

This year, twenty children in the Knox area had the opportunity to receive three weeks of kindergarten preparation at the 2014 Kindergarten Countdown Camp hosted by the Knox Community School Corporation. The camp was made possible by the generous support of Indiana University Health Starke Hospital, the Starke United Fund through the Northern Indiana Community Foundation, and the Starke County Community Foundation.

These organizations helped to fund the Kindergarten Countdown, which was developed with the goal of reaching 20 at-risk children in the Knox area between the ages of four and five who were not otherwise able to obtain a preschool experience. The founders of this project, which began in 2011, understand how important this early start is for these students in the long run. Students who attend preschool often obtain better scores on tests, have better social skills, and are more understanding of routines than those who do not attend any type of preschool program.

Kenzie Collins, a volunteer at the camp and an NICF intern said about the project, “It was great to see the progress that these kids accomplished in only three weeks. As a future educator, I loved seeing them enjoying themselves while also learning.”

The program takes place during the first three weeks of June at the Knox Elementary School. The camp runs four days a week from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. The lead kindergarten teacher, Kim Ray, and an average of 5 volunteers a day teach the children valuable skills needed for kindergarten. Through interactive activities, the campers learned nursery rhymes, as well as numbers and letters, focusing especially on identifying the letters in their names and the ABCs. They also developed their motor skills by playing visual and physical games that challenged them and pushed them out of their comfort zone. The main objective of this camp is to immerse the children into a “going to school” routine with the purpose of easing the transition into kindergarten for students, parents, and teachers.

“Every year I get the same general report from our kindergarten teachers,” said Peggy Shidaker, Director of Curriculum/Instruction for Knox Schools. “They say they can see a difference in these children when compared with other entering kindergarteners. The camp children know how to begin the school year and basically how to follow routines, including the routine of learning centers. They also note that these children do not have the same separation-from-parent issues compared to their peers.”

The program is funded by a grant from IU Health via the Indiana Association of United Ways. An additional grant from the Starke United Fund through the NICF was also given to the project. The cost of the camp is approximately $6,000-$6,500, which covers the pay of one teacher, one assistant, transportation costs for two buses and two bus drivers, and daily breakfast and lunch for the students. These costs do not include classroom supplies or the books that are sent home daily with each of the students. Because of these additional expenses, donations, large or small, through the Starke United Fund or the Community Foundation are greatly appreciated. 

For more information, contact the Northern Indiana Community Foundation toll free at 877-432-6423, or Sarah Origer at the Starke County Community Foundation at 574-772-3665.

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Preschool Scholarship Program
Seeks to Raise Public Awareness

Jay Albright
Download the applications!
>>Fulton County Application
>>Miami County Application
>>Starke County Application

The NICF is in the second year of a partnership with local preschools, schools and other organizations,to offer preschool scholarships for the children of Fulton, Miami and Starke Counties.

The goal of the program is to make one year of preschool education affordable to every child in our counties. Need-based scholarships are available to families of four-year-old children.

Many people underestimate the importance of preschool education. The expectations of what a child entering kindergarten should know have risen dramatically in recent years and local children who arrive for kindergarten unprepared often have difficulty catching up to their peers.

Eighty-five percent of a child’s brain growth happens by the age of five, and children who attend preschool are more likely to read at grade level, graduate from high school, and continue on to secondary education.

Rigorous studies have shown that for every dollar invested in early childhood education programs for low-income children, between $4 and $9 is returned to the community.

These financial returns come in the form of reduced special education costs, less grade repetition in schools, better job preparedness and a greater ability to meet future labor force demands, higher incomes due to higher educational attainment, fewer welfare payments, and lower criminal casualties and prison costs.

“It’s clear that investing in early childhood education leads to long-term community benefits that would be unwise to ignore,” says NICF Executive Director Jay Albright.

For more information about the scholarship program, contact corinne@nicf.org. To contribute, visit the Giving Connection to invest in the Preschool Scholarship Program for Fulton, Miami or Starke County children.

Welcome to the Starke County Community Foundation
Starke County is a wonderful rural county comprised of small towns where everyone knows each other; and can always depend on neighbors and friends in a pinch. It has a wonderful heritage and a diverse cultural background that adds to its charm.

Since 1996, Starke County Community Foundation has brought caring people and charitable endeavors together for the good of this great community. The Community Foundation gives donors flexible and tax-effective ways to ensure their charitable giving. We work to build substantial endowment funds for our community through contributions large and small.

Starke County Community Foundation is proud to be a part of the Northern Indiana Community Foundation (NICF). The NICF allows us to maximize our investment benefits and be more cost efficient. This way Starke County donations can do more—right here in Starke County.

So far, Starke County Community Foundation has dispersed over 2.7 million dollars in grants and scholarships. Currently the Community Foundation holds more than $6.4 million in assets and administers more than 100 funds.