Five area foundations chipped in $3.5 million to strengthen early education programs in Santa Barbara County as part of a nationwide push to increase opportunities for tots. Together the donors — Orfalea Foundation, James S. Bower Foundation, Santa Barbara Foundation, Hutton Parker Foundation, and the Towbes Family Foundations — will support kindergarten readiness in targeted communities, support family based education, and create a network of 40 preschool centers so they can deepen their practices to include, for instance, outdoor classroom models.

“In Santa Barbra, we have an exceptional network of professionals who nurture and teach children,” said the Orfalea Foundation’s Adrianna Foss, who traveled to Washington D.C. this week for the White House summit called Invest in Us. “Only about 3 or 4 of 10 children [in the country attend preschool],” said Foss. “It’s really a national need.”

Foss called it “a very powerful thing” to see national officials on the same page on this issue, adding that the summit was void of partisanship. “It is really clear now that the science is in that shows that the first three years of life establishes patterns that lead to the rest of their life,” Foss said.

A supporter of funding early education with federal dollars, Congresswoman Lois Capps said in a statement she looks forward to working with the foundations. “We must ensure that our children receive a high-quality education from cradle to college – it’s an investment in them as well as our future,” Capps said.


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