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South Bend And United Way Of St. Joseph County Renew Early Learning Grant Partnership

Gemma DiCarlo / WVPE Public Radio

The City of South Bend and the United Way of St. Joseph County have renewed their partnership to fund early childhood education. 

The United Way established a grant fund in 2019 to help local programs make improvements on Paths to Quality, the state’s rating system for early childhood programs.


Laura Jensen, president and CEO of the United Way of St. Joseph County, said the first round of grants allowed 21 local programs to purchase equipment and invest in professional development opportunities to “advance or maintain” their state quality level.


“It’s about the curriculum that is being utilized, it’s about the training that the teachers and administrators go through,” Jensen said. “It’s so much than just taking care of a child.”


South Bend Mayor James Mueller said the city’s $100,000 contribution to the fund is a “critical component” of its economic development strategy.


“This is making sure that everyone has access to high-quality early childhood education to set them up for success, as well as assist with single parents who do need the childcare aspect of it to seek opportunities of their own,” Mueller said.


County United Way officials also announced they’re partnering with the city to offer a new credentialing course for early-career childhood education professionals.


“We know that childcare is an essential cog in the wheel of our economic growth, our workforce, our strong community and our health as a whole,” Emile Rupchock, director of early learning partnerships, said. “So we’re thrilled for this partnership and can’t wait to see what comes.”


Contact Gemma atgdicarlo@wvpe.orgor follow her on Twitter at@gemma_dicarlo.


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Gemma DiCarlo comes to Indiana by way of Athens, Georgia. She graduated from the University of Georgia in 2020 with a degree in Journalism and certificates in New Media and Sustainability. She has radio experience from her time as associate producer of Athens News Matters, the flagship public affairs program at WUGA-FM.