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United Way partners with big business to boost preschool

SOUTH SALT LAKE, Ut (ABC 4 Utah) - For the first time, funding is in place for Granite School District's high quality preschool.
SOUTH SALT LAKE, Ut (ABC 4 Utah) - For the first time, funding is in place for Granite School District's high quality preschool.

Right now more than one thousand at-risk kids are waiting to get into the program because of it's long track record of success. Brenda Van Gorder, the district's director of preschool services said, "We have a set of standards and we adhere to those standards.  They are not negotiable." Educators have said, they're also high.

That's why students graduating from the program are completely ready for kindergarten.  In fact, 95 percent of them are ready, reducing the need for special education classes to catch students up later on. In addition, Van Gorder says the results are long lasting. In a school district study, at-risk kids were still on track years later. "Those children are at the top of their classes," she said.  "They have totally closed the achievement gap.

That is the reason why United Way of Salt Lake City partnered with Goldman Sachs and J.B. Pritzker to fund Granite's high quality preschool.  The funding pay for at least 450 students to enter the program this fall, but numbers are expected to grow in the coming years. In fact, almost four thousand kids will get education funding in the next several years.

Van Gorder says that is a good sign for Utah's future.  "They will be the kids who finish High School, " she said.  "They will be the kids who finish college.  They will be the kids who buy houses and have bank accounts and who are the future employers and high quality employees of our state."

They'll also save the state money.  According to the United Way, each child who attends high quality preschool, will likely save the state up to 25 hundred dollars a year in special education funds.



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