First Years First

The goal of the Community Foundation’s First Years First early childhood development initiative is to increase the school readiness skills of young children so they may progress successfully from Pre-K through Grade 3.

Our Children, Our Priority

At its core, the import is so evident, the risk so clear: Provide our youngest children with the developmentally strong start in life they need to succeed, or risk not only their future, but our collective future, as well.

That is the mandate that the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain embraced in 2005 when it established First Years First, a long-term investment in preparing our children for success in school and in life by enhancing their early childhood development experience.

First Years First focuses on three key strategies:

  • Skill Development: Improve literacy, early learning and developmental skills for families with young children.
  • Parenting Education: Improve parenting education and skills that increase parents’ knowledge of child development, the importance of early education, and enhance their skills so that children are supported and ready to learn and succeed in school.
  • Advocacy/Public Policy: Support advocacy and public policy that promotes the importance of and access to high-quality early childhood outcomes and leverage resources to support this work.

Joeline Wruck visiting Toffollon Schools to see the results of a 2016 FYF grant.

First Years First embodies bold choices and a collaborative approach that inspire measurable change. Our leadership and investment in early childhood development are helping to ensure that our children are afforded the advantages and opportunities that come with a healthy start. Some examples:

  • Family Resource Centers, literacy initiatives and community partnerships made possible largely through Foundation leadership and funding are helping more local children than ever enter kindergarten ready to learn.
  • Full-day kindergarten is a reality in all four towns we serve, and early childhood education has been made a priority at the state level, thanks in part to our advocacy.
  • A Foundation-inspired regional consortium of early childhood educators is taking the training and accreditation of pre-school educators to a new level.
  • Our early childhood education efforts in New Britain are contributing to a rapid decline in chronic school absence in the earliest grades and a significant upswing in reading scores.

Partnerships and collaboration are key to the success of First Years First. Additional funders and collaborators include the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund, Christine E. Moser Foundation, American Savings Foundation, United Way of Northeastern and Central Connecticut, Community Chest of New Britain and Berlin, Coalition for New Britain’s Youth, Coalition to Enhance Family Literacy, Early Childhood Collaborative of Southington, Literacy Volunteers of Central Connecticut, Consolidated School District of New Britain, Tunxis Community College, Plainville Public Schools, Southington Public Schools and New Britain, Plainville and Southington Public Libraries, among others.

For more information about First Years First, please call or e-mail Joeline Wruck, Director of Community Initiatives and Program Services, at 860.229.6018, x307

Early Childhood Collaborative of Southington

Joanne Kelleher Director

The Community Foundation of Greater New Britain is a proud sponsor of the Early Childhood Collaborative of Southington (ECCS). ECCS is a group of committed educators, parents, grandparents, healthcare and childcare providers, business owners, civic organizations and members of the community who are deeply invested in the growth, development and academic success of young children in Southington.

Please click here for more information.