Community Leaders Learn More About Gates Foundation Grant - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Community Leaders Learn More About Gates Foundation Grant

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YAKIMA, Wash. - The Gates Foundation's Early Learning Program is a partnership with "Thrive By Five."  The goal is to improve education before kindergarten, to get kids ready for school.

Research suggests the first five years of a child's life lays the groundwork for their emotional, social, language, cognitive and physical development.  All of those are critical to a child's school-readiness.  Yakima was invited to apply for a grant because there are issues that need to addressed.

Regina Jones, the governor's policy advisor, says, "This will be something that we'll have to take the lead from the community."

Studies show only one-quarter of the state's lowest income students are ready for kindergarten.  Greg Shaw, Director of Education for the Gates Foundation, says a grant could benefit outreach programs, pre-schools, even health care.

Parents are part of the equation, too.  Most of the learning in the first five years goes on at home, and parents need to know how critical they are.  "When a child starts behind, they often stay behind.  In this state too many kids are failing, too many are dropping out, and we have to start earlier." says Shaw.