Forsyth County and the City of Winston-Salem granted around $4 million in ARPA funds to The Pre-K Priority, which is a collaboration of organizations committed to early childhood education. 

The money will support 32 local Pre-K classrooms, which have just been selected, over the course of two years.

Glynnise Highsmith, the director of Pre-K initiatives for Smart Start of Forsyth County, says staffing is one of the biggest challenges providers are facing. Because of that, her organization will manage and coordinate salary support for participating educators. 

“We're also providing them with an opportunity to either fulfill their educational pursuits or to start educational pursuits, you know, to increase their educational level," Highsmith said. "So there's some dollars to support them with tuition.”

The funds will also go toward things like curriculum, materials, and translation services for English language learners and their families.

Leslie Mullinix, the director of The Pre-K Priority, says the initiative will serve as a roadmap for future efforts to help children access high-quality Pre-K. 

“It's very well documented that high-quality Pre-K does affect children in a very positive way not only for the school readiness for Kindergarten but throughout the life course," she said. "So we see that children do better in school throughout K through 12. So many more kids are able to pursue higher institutional learning after they graduate.”

The project will serve 518 children in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School system, Head Start, NC Pre-K, and private Pre-K programs. 

Amy Diaz covers education for WFDD in partnership with Report For America. You can follow her on Twitter at @amydiaze.

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