St. Helena, CA - A new report from the Napa Valley Early Learning Initiative (NVELI) shows the program served 1,487 Napa County children, parents, caregivers and providers in 2014/15, the initiative’s second year. NVELI is a public/private partnership between the Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) nonprofit trade association and First 5 Napa County established to help reduce the achievement gap between English-fluent and English language-learning students in Napa County. In 2013, NVV announced its commitment of up to $5 million over five years from Auction Napa Valley proceeds to support the initiative.
In tandem with the release of the NVELI Second Year Report, Kris Perry, a nationally recognized thought leader on early childhood education and executive director of the First Five Years Fund in Washington, DC, spoke to a group of 40 local childhood education professionals and community leaders on Friday in Napa. Perry discussed the critical importance of investing in early childhood development as the path toward preparing a child for success in school and in life, noting NVELI as a model program for achieving these goals.
"I’ve looked at the NVV/First 5 initiative and it’s outstanding," said Perry during her talk. "The quality benchmarks are right where they need to be." Perry went on to encourage the NVV and First 5 to continue their work through NVELI, and to partner with education leaders to address the achievement gap in Napa County. "Unless we all work together at the local, state and federal levels, we will never win on early childhood education," Perry continued. "You are at an important time with the Napa Valley Early Learning Initiative. You need to keep going."
Findings of the NVELI Second Year Report include:
- 736 students, their 721 parents and 30 educators were served in the four high-need elementary school neighborhoods of Napa Junction in American Canyon, Calistoga Elementary in Calistoga, and Shearer Elementary and Phillips Elementary in Napa.
- For the 2014-15 funding year, $765,265 was distributed to ten NVELI programs in the categories of Family Strengthening, to engage and support families; Child Access, to increase availability of high-quality preschool experiences; Provider Quality, to support early learning providers; and Systems Change, to support overall efforts to improve systems.
- Each component of the program includes strategies and activities that are evidence-based or considered best practices that aim to reduce the kindergarten-readiness gap.
- The initiative provided 34 quality preschool spots for English-language learners that would not otherwise have access to a quality preschool option.
- Teachers completed 277 kindergarten readiness assessments demonstrating a 17 percent readiness gap between English-language learners and their English-fluent peers. This assessment will serve as the benchmark for measuring NVELI’s success in future years.
- NVELI provided initial investment to Funding the Next Generation, a county-wide collaborative focused on capacity-building efforts to create a sustainable public funding stream to help marginalized youth and their families.
According to an April 2015 U.S. Department of Education report on preschool in America, significant new investments in high-quality early education are necessary to help communities close school readiness gaps. Advances in neuroscience and research demonstrate the benefits of quality early education during the critical period in children’s learning and development. For English language learners, the unmet need is especially great. Without access to quality preschool, English language learners and children from low-income families are far less likely to be prepared to start kindergarten than their peers.
The California Department of Education finds that in the 2014-15 school year in Napa County, 54 percent of students were Hispanic/Latino and 23 percent were English-language learners. Napa County also has a slightly higher proportion of students with Spanish as their primary language, compared to the rest of California.
The NVELI Second Year Report Executive Summary is available here.
About the Napa Valley Vintners
The Napa Valley Vintners nonprofit trade association has been cultivating excellence since 1944 by inspiring its more than 525 members to consistently produce wines of the highest quality, to provide environmental leadership and to care for the extraordinary place they call home. Learn more at napavintners.com.
About First 5 Napa County
California voters passed Proposition 10 in November 1998 establishing the 58 Children and Families Commissions later becoming known as First 5 emphasizing the importance of a child’s first five years. Proposition 10 added a 50 cent tax on all tobacco products to provide funds to support services for children 0-5 and their families. Proposition 10 was built on research showing investments in the first five years produce significant results – for the children, their families and society. In November 2013, First 5 celebrated its 15th Anniversary and the combined community investment of over $18 million for young children, families and early care providers. Learn more at First5Napa.org.
Read the NVELI Second Year Report