PNC Grow Up Great and Detroit Public Schools Announce First-ever Summer School Programs in Science and the Arts for Pre-K Students

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PNC Foundation investment leverages resources of Detroit Public Schools Foundation, Detroit Science Center and Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts on behalf of underserved children

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Establishing a foundation in basic skills during a child’s early years is vital to competing in an economy increasingly based on knowledge and ability.

The PNC Foundation today announced a $2.1 million investment with the Detroit Public Schools Foundation, the Detroit Science Center and the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts to establish new programs in science and the arts for underserved preschool children in the Detroit Public Schools.

The investment is part of the local launch of PNC Grow Up Great, a 10-year, $100 million initiative to improve early childhood education. Starting in June, the Detroit Public Schools will offer these two disciplines for the first time ever in a pilot summer program that will continue into the school year. In addition, Kristen McDonald, senior program manager with the Skillman Foundation, has been named to the Grow Up Great Advisory Council.

PNC's commitment leverages the experience of the Detroit Science Center and the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts to create new programs in preschool teacher training, add activities to enhance the arts and sciences curriculum of the Detroit Public Schools pre-k program and engage parents in their children's learning experiences. Following completion of the pilot, the program will continue for an additional two school years and will include an independent evaluation of its success.

"Establishing a foundation in basic skills during a child's early years is vital to competing in an economy increasingly based on knowledge and ability," said James E. Rohr, chairman and chief executive officer of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., which is the principal source of funding for the PNC Foundation. "The investment we make now in the children of Detroit lays the groundwork for their future and that of this region."

Rohr made the announcement at Emerson Elementary School with David Boyle, PNC regional president for Michigan and Northwest Ohio, where children, teachers and community leaders gathered to hear details of the grants and Grow Up Great. The new summer program and subsequent instruction will serve Emerson and six other city schools. The professional development aspect of the program will enhance teacher training for 12 teachers and 12 teaching assistants in the participating classrooms.

Approximately 200 children are expected to be served during the program's one-year pilot. Based on an evaluation of the pilot, the program may be expanded to reach more children and teachers in years two and three.

"A quality preschool program has a major impact on the educational success of our students," said Robert Bobb, emergency financial manager for Detroit Public Schools. "PNC Grow Up Great will greatly enhance our preschool programs and allow for immediate expansion of our successful summer school. Consistent studies have shown that investments in early childhood programs produce measureable, long-term educational benefits."

Working Together
The partner institutions will provide opportunities for PNC employees to volunteer in support of the programs, a hallmark of Grow Up Great. In addition, the grants will enable the institutions to collaborate on a series of professional development days as part of a robust teacher development curriculum. Program features of each institution include:

  •     Detroit Public Schools Foundation will appoint a program coordinator to oversee teacher training and coordinate instruction with the partners. In addition, it will provide classroom materials and technology components.
  •     The Detroit Science Center will bring the resources of the center and the Detroit Children's Museum into the classrooms, and host a series of student field trips and family visits. Instruction will emphasize exploration and hands-on activities.
  •     Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts will feature preschool students engaging in dramatic play. Family participation is encouraged. Instruction includes music awareness through the use of miniature and handmade instruments.

Each institution has committed to measure the results and share best practices. PNC's second- and third-year funding is contingent upon successfully meeting the previous year's objectives.

In joining the PNC Grow Up Great Advisory Council, McDonald brings strong credentials and a commitment to quality early childhood education. Composed of leading experts in the fields of education, medicine, government, academia, and philanthropy, the council provides guidance to Grow Up Great's strategy and implementation.

Gift of Kits: Success in School
Rosita, the furry, blue and Spanish speaking Muppet from Sesame Street, joined in the celebration by helping Rohr present a gift of 3,200 "Happy, Healthy, Ready for School - Learning Is Everywhere" kits to Detroit Public Schools for each child in its pre-k program. The kits were created by Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, for PNC Grow Up Great as part of a continuing partnership. The bilingual, multimedia kits include a magazine for parents and caregivers, a children's activity book and cards, along with an original Sesame Street DVD that follows Elmo, Abby Cadabby, and their friends on a learning adventure through the everyday moments they have at home and on the go.

Bobb accepted the gift of kits on behalf of the Detroit Public Schools. Learning is Everywhere materials are available at no charge at all PNC Bank branches, pncgrowupgreat.com, and sesameworkshop.org. The video is available free of charge on Learn Along with Sesame on iTunes (http://www.iTunes.com) and Amazon VOD.

Over the next few weeks, the PNC Foundation will announce additional grants throughout Michigan to enhance the educational experience of more preschool children. The grant recipients will also be supported by PNC employee volunteers.

About the Organizations
The Detroit Public Schools Foundation is a tax-exempt 501 (c) (3) organization dedicated to supporting Detroit students. Our mission is to raise, manage and steward funds and other resources to support value-added programs and activities for the benefit of the Detroit Public Schools and its students. Our program areas include early childhood investment, enhancing fine and performing arts programs, principal development/teacher enhancement, college preparatory investment, science and math enrichment, building academic athletic leadership, business and professional executive engagement and other activities for the benefit of the Detroit Public Schools.

The Detroit Science Center is a hands-on museum that inspires its visitors to pursue and support careers in engineering, technology and science. The Science Center features five theaters, including Michigan's only Chrysler IMAX® Dome Theatre, the Dassault Systèmes Planetarium, the Toyota Engineering Theater, the DTE Energy Sparks Theater and the Chrysler Science Stage; a 9,000 square-foot Science Hall for traveling exhibits; hands-on exhibit galleries focusing on space, life and physical science; an exhibit gallery just for pint-size scientists; and a Special Events Lobby. The Science Center is the official home of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America and FIRST in Michigan, and it operates the Detroit Children's Museum, re-opening June 26, 2010. For more information, please call 313.577.8400 or visit the website, http://www.detroitsciencecenter.org

The Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts has been a significant player in Detroit's performing arts sector since Matilda Dodge Wilson opened the doors to our intimate downtown venue in 1928. As the last remaining legitimate stage theatre, Music Hall is the only Detroit venue built for the primary purpose of presenting live performances. We have been home to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Michigan Opera Theatre, one of the nation's first Cinerama screens, and a wide variety of quality performances that embody the diverse cultures of the world. As a prominent variety house, Music Hall provides accessible music, theatre, dance, and other performance programming and education to a diverse audience. An opportunity for rising stars and a home for classic icons, Music Hall is truly a cultural resource for the city of Detroit.

About the PNC Foundation
The PNC Foundation, which receives its principal funding from The PNC Financial Services Group (NYSE: PNC), actively supports organizations that provide services for the benefit of communities in which it has a significant presence. The foundation focuses its philanthropic mission on early childhood education and community and economic development, which includes the arts and culture. Through its signature cause, Grow Up Great, PNC has created a 10-year, $100 million initiative to enhance early childhood education and school readiness.

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