Six early learning programs receive funding to adopt or enhance comprehensive early learning approaches aligned with the Principles of Ideal Learning.

Early Milestones Colorado and Trust for Learning are pleased to announce the six programs selected to receive funding through the Expanding Ideal Learning Environments in Pre-K Through Kindergarten grants initiative. The 18-month grants range from $9,000 to $22,000 and launch on July 15, 2022. The awarded programs include non-profit organizations, public schools, school districts, and standalone preschool sites. Final grantees were selected through a competitive process that considered each project’s goals, plans to align programming with the Ideal Learning Principles, and the potential for impact on children, families, and educators.

Funded by Trust for Learning, this initiative intends to improve educational experiences for pre-K and kindergarten-aged children through individualized, experiential, child-centered learning approaches. Selected projects center educators and their ongoing professional development as core components of successful implementation of Ideal Learning approaches and serve primarily historically marginalized communities. Grantee projects will provide valuable insights and learnings as the state prepares to launch a universal preschool program in fall 2023.

Denison Montessori, a traditional Montessori school within Denver Public Schools, will allocate funding to provide professional development to staff with the goal of addressing the impacts of toxic stress and trauma on children and adults. Grant funds will be used specifically to implement the Sustainably Integrated Trauma Informed Education (S.I.T.E.) Framework and the Neurosequential Model of Education (NME). Eagle County School District will leverage funding to strengthen a new preschool classroom’s alignment with the Ideal Learning Principles. The grant will help to establish outdoor learning centers at Gypsum Elementary School and to create a classroom environment that authentically represents, embraces, and celebrates the different languages and cultures of the children and their families.

Eagle County School District will leverage funding to strengthen a new preschool classroom’s alignment with the Ideal Learning Principles. The grant will help to establish outdoor learning centers at Gypsum Elementary School and to create a classroom environment that authentically represents, embraces, and celebrates the different languages and cultures of the children and their families.

Eagleton Elementary School, a Denver Public School with two full-day ECE classes, will use grant funds to train a teacher and paraprofessional in Tools of the Mind. Trained educators will be supported to collaborate with the other ECE teaching team with the goal of improving learning experiences for children and families by helping students to develop cognitive, social-emotional, self-regulatory, and foundational academic skills needed to be successful in and out of school.

Montessori Collective, a non-profit organization that supports schools in transitioning conventional early childhood classrooms to Montessori, will provide a scholarship for a teacher and a paraprofessional from a publicly-funded ECE program at a Denver Public School to attend Montessori training. Through the training and with the ongoing support of Montessori Collective coaches, educators will gain the knowledge to personalize learning experiences for each child and create child-centered learning environments that foster exploration, curiosity, and independence.

Paradise Place Preschool, a program located in the rural resort community of Crested Butte that offers a Reggio-inspired early childhood curriculum, will use grant funds to support educators. Identified strategies include a monthly focus on each of the nine Ideal Learning Principles, expanded use of the Teaching Strategies Gold observational assessment tool, additional investment in Creative Curriculum materials, and training educators in the Pyramid Plus Approach (PPA) to promote children’s healthy social-emotional development and practices that support inclusion.

YMCA of Northern Colorado will use funding to implement Tools of the Mind at the YMCA Inspire Preschool in Longmont, in collaboration with St. Vrain Valley School District. The implementation of this play-based and child-centered curriculum will help educators better serve children and families at the Longmont site with the intention to eventually expand to additional preschools in Weld and Boulder counties. For more information on this initiative, please visit: earlymilestones.org/project/ideal-learning/

About Trust for Learning

Trust for Learning was founded in 2011 by a small group of philanthropists who saw the potential to expand developmentally appropriate, play-based, whole-child early learning approaches like Montessori to serve far more children and families. Today, our staff and board support projects and investments around the country that expand ideal learning approaches in the public sector.

About Early Milestones Colorado

Early Milestones Colorado is a statewide nonprofit organization working to advance innovative solutions that improve policies and practices in early childhood systems. Founded in 2015, we work with state and local partners to exchange ideas, pilot programs, research critical issues, and share resources, with the goal of creating lasting, positive change so that Colorado is the best place to raise a child.