Cass County Reading Railroad awarded grant from PNC

Last Updated on March 10, 2015 by cassnetwork

Pictured left to right:  Thillia Reynolds, PNC branch manager; Gwyndyn Seabolt, PNC Bank teller supervisor; Chip Wood, PNC client and community relations specialist; Bonnie Sonafrank, interim program director Reading Railroad; Joyce Mayhill, executive director of United Way of Cass County.
Pictured left to right: Thillia Reynolds, PNC branch manager; Gwyndyn Seabolt, PNC Bank teller supervisor; Chip Wood, PNC client and community relations specialist; Bonnie Sonafrank, interim program director Reading Railroad; Joyce Mayhill, executive director of United Way of Cass County. PHOTO PROVIDED

Reading Railroad of Logansport has received a $12,970 grant from the PNC Foundation to enhance early literacy skills for at-risk preschoolers enrolled in the United Way of Cass County’s Reading Railroad Begindergarten™ program.  PNC provided the funding in support of Grow Up Great, its bilingual program in early childhood education.

The Begindergarten™ program is a summer-intervention program which will provide professional development for teachers and help improve the foundational skills needed to successfully transition preschoolers to kindergarten.

“The focus on quality early education before kindergarten has a measurable impact on children’s future success in school and life,” said Connie Bond Stuart, PNC regional president for central and southern Indiana.  “If we hesitate to make the investment then, by the time at-risk children reach third and fourth grade, they often can’t do math or read at grade level.  Bridging the achievement gap is more difficult and expensive once it is created.”

The grant from the PNC Foundation, which receives its principal funding from The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (NYSE: PNC), will allow the Cass County Reading Railroad of Logansport to offer support for the six-week summer school program, in which up to 100 at-risk preschoolers can participate.  Funding will also allow for the program to hire local teachers and create professional development opportunities for them in an effort to maximize the children’s progression.

“When we make our children a priority by lending support to their families and giving them access to qualified educators, we witness the benefits.  Year after year, as our success rate continues to increase, the BegindergartenTM  program enables the children of Cass County to engage in and benefit from these learning experiences as a stepping stone to Kindergarten success,” said Bonnie Sonafrank, Interim Program Director for Reading Railroad.

“As a volunteer for both PNC’s Grow Up Great and the Begindergarten™ programs, I have witnessed the benefits of early education first-hand, said Gwyndyn Seabolt, PNC bank teller supervisor in Logansport.  “Not only do students increase their basic skills, but social development as well.  In the beginning, students tend to avoid eye contact and refrain from engaging in classroom discussions, but by the end of the six week program, they greet me, they make friends, and so I see the significant impact in their progression and readiness for Kindergarten.”

To learn more about the PNC Grow Up Great initiative, go to www.pncgrowupgreat.com. Follow PNC at www.twitter.com/PNCNews and www.youtube.com/PNC

About the Organizations

The PNC Foundation, which receives its principal funding from The PNC Financial Services Group (www.pnc.com), actively supports organizations that provide services for the benefit of communities in which it has a significant presence. The foundation focuses its philanthropic mission on early childhood education and community and economic development, which includes the arts and culture. Through Grow Up Great, its signature cause that began in 2004, PNC has created a $350 million, multi-year initiative to help prepare children from birth to age 5 for success in school and life.

The BegindergartenTM program is a kindergarten readiness program facilitated by the United Way of Cass County Reading Railroad (www.casscountyreadingrailroad.org) and offers local incoming kindergarteners an opportunity to participate in 15 hours of early literacy readiness intervention weekly for six weeks during the summer.   The United Way of Cass County Framework has identified a Community Outcome in the area of Educations as: ‘Children achieve appropriate development targets in literacy, social skills, emotional development, physical motor skills and cognitive skills as a mean to entering Kindergarten ready to learn.’  BegindergartenTM serves as a strategy for achieving this outcome.