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ELKHART COUNTY, Indiana — Building Strong Brains is receiving $400,000 from Early Learning Indiana as part of its first round of grants.

Building Strong Brains is a coalition with the mission of building a system supporting Elkhart County children under age 6 and the families who raise them so that every child is prepared to thrive when they enter kindergarten. Five agencies — Community Foundation of Elkhart County, Horizon Education Alliance, Child and Parent Services, Crossroads United Way, and The SOURCE — are leading the collaboration to build a system supporting the children. 

Indiana, with generous support from Lilly Endowment Inc., awarded the grant to Building Strong Brains. Funding will support:

  • Parent Cafés for parents of young children (CAPS)
  • Triple P for Baby (HEA)
  • Bright By Text, a free texting service with information for parents of young children (Crossroads United Way)
  • Data dashboard focused on early childhood (University of Notre Dame’s Lucy Family Institute for Data and Society)
  • Website and marketing for Building Strong Brains (CFEC)

This grant will advance and accelerate efforts already underway in Elkhart County, and is the first of many grants the coalition hopes to secure.  With the vision that all children enter kindergarten prepared to thrive and succeed, Building Strong Brains is building partnerships and collaborations across sectors and continually listening to parents to inform strategies and activities.

Kim Boynton, Building Strong Brains coalition director, said, “The grant award is an exciting opportunity for the Building Strong Brains coalition to continue to align the collective transformative action work and resources to support young children and their families in Elkhart County during the early childhood years.”

Rebecca Shetler Fast, CEO of Child And Parent Services, added, “This funding will support leveraging and aligning local resources to serve children and families in Elkhart County, through our work at CAPS, and through broader community-wide systems efforts and services in our Building Strong Brains coalition.”

Early Learning Indiana is awarding grants of up to $500,000 to 86 organizations serving Indiana infants and toddlers. The grants total $31 million. All 86 organizations will serve families in low-income households; 69% of grantees will serve members of communities of color; and 63% will serve multi-language learners.

Each awarded program will help Hoosier families support the cognitive, social-emotional and physical well-being of infants and toddlers. Studies show a child’s brain is hardest at work during the first three years of life, busy creating the foundation for all future learning capacity, social-emotional development, and mental and physical health.

Leah Plank, senior director of Parent and Family Systems for Horizon Education Alliance and acting director of Triple P, said the grant will expand Triple P’s capacity to reach parents of the community’s youngest children. “This will help us have a greater positive impact on children at those crucial early stages when even a small intervention can lead to huge leaps in their development,” she said. “As part of Building Strong Brains, we are thankful to be part of a community-wide approach to early childhood that focuses on how far we can go together.”

Another of the 86 grantees is working to help the children of Elkhart County. Walnut Hill Early Childhood Center in Goshen is receiving $165,200 for adding an infant classroom and capacity in toddler classrooms.

Marshall V. King
Director of Communications
Community Foundation of Elkhart County
(574) 295-8761