About

The work of the STL Pre-K Cooperative is rooted in the notion that the St. Louis community can collectively work to deploy existing state pre-K funding through innovative and collaborative approaches. Through high expectations and rigorous evaluation, students will access truly high-quality pre-K programs.

Five K-12 public schools and two early childhood providers are leading the creation of an innovative partnership to expand access to high-quality early childhood education for children growing up in underserved communities. After completing a feasibility assessment in Fall 2019 and issuing a request for proposals open to St. Louis organizations in January 2020, together, the founding partners will provide pre-K to 100 students in five pilot classrooms in three locations across the City.

2020-2021 Partners

  • Beginning Futures Learning Center
  • SouthSide Early Childhood Center
  • Confluence Academies
  • KIPP St. Louis
  • Lafayette Preparatory Academy
  • Lift for Life Academy
  • St. Louis Language Immersion School

By inspiring cooperation between the early childhood and K-12 sectors and providing technical and philanthropic support, the Cooperative aims to support the deployment of additional state pre-K funding not currently being utilized in St. Louis City and County in future years.  The Opportunity Trust has provided seed funding to launch the St. Louis Pre-K Cooperative and will contribute a $150,000 matching grant to provide resources for classroom start-up costs.

Meghan Hill

St. Louis Language Immersion School Executive Director

Our partnership with SouthSide Early Childhood Center will allow us to better serve our school community and help to address the needs of children and families from across St. Louis City. The level of collaboration that is at the heart of this endeavor is inspiring. We are collaborating as schools and also collaborating across the K-12 and ECE sectors.

40%

Only 40 percent of all three- and four-year-olds in St. Louis City have access to free pre-K seats.

8

The largest service gaps in St. Louis City exist in 8 zip codes where a total of 4,769 children lack access to free pre-K in their neighborhood.

1

One year of universal high-quality pre-K could practically eliminate the Black-White reading skills gap at kindergarten entry.

Only 40 percent of all three- and four-year-olds in St. Louis City have access to free pre-K seats.

The STL Pre-K Cooperative aims to increase the number of children that have access to free, high-quality pre-K programs.

The STL Pre-K Cooperative aims to increase the number of children that have access to free, high-quality pre-K programs.

The STL Pre-K Cooperative aims to increase the number of children that have access to free, high-quality pre-K programs.

Source: National Institute for Early Childhood Education Research

Impact

Decades of research point to the importance of high-quality early childhood education in establishing a strong cognitive, social, and emotional foundation on which children can build throughout their education and their lifetime. As noted in the Clark-Fox Policy Institute’s recent report, Launching Lifelong Success, long-term studies of high-quality ECE programs consistently demonstrate participants are more likely to achieve academically, graduate from high school, go to college, get a good job, and see positive health outcomes in adulthood. Stanford professor Deborah Stipek has observed that these outcomes are more likely to persist when pre-K instruction is well aligned to what follows in elementary school, and children continue to have access to high-quality educational programs that promote parent engagement.

The impact of ECE goes beyond the individual’s educational attainment and lifetime earnings to have wide-reaching community benefits such as economic growth and reduced crime and utilization of social services. A report published in 2017 by the Brookings Institution summarizing the existing scientific knowledge on the impact of pre-K found that all children benefit from high-quality pre-K education, but the impact is most pronounced for children from low-income backgrounds. Analysis informing the design of the Pre-K Cooperative found, however, that only 40 percent of all three- and four-year-olds in St. Louis City have access to free pre-K seats. Current free pre-K seats are not all means-tested and are not evenly distributed by geography, making pre-K often difficult to access for low-income families. The most significant gaps exist in Benton Park/Tower Grove East, Carondelet, Dutchtown, Fox Park, Lemay, North 70 Corridor, Penrose, and Southampton.  Access to high-quality ECE programs will be especially strained – and central to economic recovery – in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, as public health requirements reduce capacity, and many programs find themselves on the brink of financial collapse.

Per the 2014 passage of HB 1689, every school district in Missouri is eligible to receive funding as part of the state school funding formula for a number of pre-K students equal to four percent of their total enrollment of students eligible for free- and reduced-price lunch. This year, however, some $2.3 million was left on the table by eligible local education agencies in St. Louis City that did not access this funding. In accordance with state legislation, all of the children enrolled in the Cooperative are eligible for free- and reduced-price lunch.  As recipients of state pre-K funding, each Cooperative classroom will earn Missouri accreditation – a mark of program quality – and be led by a certified teacher.

Rochelle Bea

Beginning Futures Learning Center Founder and Director

The founding members of the Cooperative aim to raise the bar on Kindergarten readiness. Our shared commitment to high expectations and rigorous evaluation set the stage for student growth and development.

The Opportunity Trust invests in educators and school systems eager to build the capacity required to make significant and measurable change.

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