FRANKFORT — Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky will donate $115,000 to the United Way to establish 10 early education academies geared toward helping parents better prepare children for school.
Wil James, president of the automaker's operations in Georgetown, said at a news conference at the state Capitol on Tuesday that Toyota intends to expand that investment to $450,000 over the next five years. The Toyota Bornlearning Academies will teach parents through workshops and other educational materials how to better prepare their preschool and kindergarten children for school.
A pilot program started at Beechwood Elementary in Northern Kentucky has been instrumental in helping children excel at school from the beginning, organizers say. The $115,000 grant will help expand the Bornlearning Academies to 10 elementary schools in Ashland, Bellevue, Berea, Burgin, Glasgow, Leitchfield, Murray, New Haven, Paducah and Prestonsburg. Toyota will add an additional five academies over the next four years, James said.
The academies will give parents, grandparents and caregivers more information about how to make learning fun and how to use everyday activities to encourage learning. Too often, children who start behind in kindergarten stay behind, James said.
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Terry Tolan, the executive director of the state's Office of Early Childhood, said the collaboration between the public and the private sector will help children's most important teachers — their parents — better prepare them for success.
"Every parent wants to see their child succeed," Tolan said. "Bornlearning Academies help parents of young children learn how they can best meet their child's needs to assure they will be ready for kindergarten."