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Promise Neighborhoods works to give underprivileged kids access to preschool

Published On: May 02 2013 03:31:38 PM CDT
Updated On: May 02 2013 04:45:15 PM CDT

Getting a head start on the important path to better education could be the theme for Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

Getting a head start on the important path to better education could be the theme for Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley.

The nonprofit is trying to get underprivileged kids access to high quality preschool.

Since September, a preschool classroom operated by Head Start of the Lehigh Valley has served as a research project for Promise Neighborhoods.

"Preschool offers us an opportunity to start interventions early on," said Ernest Perry, the executive director.

Promise Neighborhood's goal is to ensure the success of kids. About 40 kids within a nine-block area of downtown Allentown and their families are acting as test subjects to determine if access to high-quality, pre-K learning can be a real option for every 4-year-old within Promises' neighborhood.

"What we know in center city Allentown, in particular, is there are not a lot of high quality programs that are serving the neighborhoods or even close to the  neighborhoods," Perry said.

The question is how feasible is this. Right now, a study is ongoing to see how much it would cost to take the kids off the street and into the classroom.

The study, headed by local economist Kamran Afshar, will look at accessibility, convenience and cost. It is expected to be finished by June.

From barely being able to write their names or staying in line to now putting away toys, the changes over the past year have been remarkable, said Joanna Peters, an instructor.

"Can tell us letters, sounds, and stay seated and walk in line quietly," she said.

Parents, too, are giving feedback on the program, which could start the path for their kids' educational success.