Monroe County School District and Gilmore Early Learning Initiative, Inc.

Duration of partnership - 2 years
10 volunteers
60 students impacted

The Gilmore Foundation is a private, not-for-profit grant-making organization that has served Amory, Monroe County and North Mississippi for more than 90 years. The Gilmore Early Learning Initiative is a branch of the Gilmore Foundation that focuses on early childhood education. Since 2006, the Foundation has invested $7.5 million in creating community partnerships with multiple businesses and agencies to accomplish one goal: Improving the quality of life for young children with an emphasis on the quality of their education.

Building the partnership into a success was the culmination of five years of work to engage the citizens of Monroe County to recognize the importance of high-quality early childhood programs as a critical part of children's education. In 2009, Monroe County became the first county-wide Excel By 5 Certified Community in the state. It required all towns and cities within Monroe County working collectively to develop networks and programs that support healthy development of young children.

In 2012, Gilmore Early Learning classrooms were implemented to provide high-quality learning experiences for four year-old children in Monroe County and Amory Public School districts. The partnership with school districts produced five Promise School classrooms with an average of 21 students at each site. Monroe County Schools at Hamilton, Hatley and Smithville each housed one classroom, and two classrooms operated at West Amory Elementary School.

During the first reporting nine weeks of the 2013-14 school year, kindergarten teachers analyzed the overall assessment of children who attended the first year of Promise School. They found that Promise School students outscored their peers in every category assessed. Also, children who were ruled eligible for special services reported significant gains in meeting their goals as stated in their Individual Family Plan.

The combined efforts of all partners resulted in a first-year success that has been leveraged into a pilot pre-K site funded in part by the State of Mississippi. The institutionalization of the pre-K program is a testament to the dedication and commitment of parents, educators and philanthropists who are working together to build a better tomorrow for the children of Monroe County.