WESTVILLE –The Charles J. Strosacker Foundation recently extended a partnership with Purdue University Northwest by awarding a $150,000 grant to the Early Childhood Education baccalaureate degree program.
The grant will be used to fund such initiatives as an Early Childhood Leadership Symposium to equip community leaders, business persons and legislators with information, tools and strategies to advocate for young children and families, as well as a research project to examine the impact of high quality early learning.
“We could not be more pleased because this fits our mission to support both education and community services,” Strosacker Foundation President and CEO Bobbie Arnold said.
PNW Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education Mary Jane Eisenhauer added, “This gift will help us realize many of our goals for the Early Childhood program, provide more opportunities for our PNW students and extend our reach into the community. We are very honored and appreciative of the Strosacker Foundation’s kindness and generosity.”
Northwest Indiana’s only early childhood education program recognized by the National Association for the Education of Young Children prepares approximately 45 students for Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 3 teaching positions in public, charter, parochial and private schools. The program claims a nearly 100 percent graduate job placement rate.
The gift continues a relationship the Midland, Mich.-based foundation, established by Dow Chemical Company pioneer Charles J. Strosacker, initiated with PNW in 2007. The foundation’s first gift helped launch an early childhood education conference that has become a national annual event, attracting more than 100 professionals and students to PNW’s Westville Campus.
“We work very hard to be good stewards of this generosity,” Eisenhauer said. “The support from the Strosacker Foundation is a public endorsement of the work we do to support quality early learning—preparing candidates to be excellent teachers, modeling best practices at our field sites, advocating on behalf of children and families, and engaging with the community.”
Strosacker Foundation endowment support
When the baccalaureate degree in Early Childhood Education emerged on the Westville Campus in 2008, a Strosacker Foundation endowment supported program curriculum, student activities, faculty development and community engagement, including:
– Strosacker Professional Development Mini-Grants – available to PNW students to fund projects impacting children from birth through grade 3. Since inception in 2010, more than $8,000 in grants have funded 38 projects;
– Conference attendance support for faculty and students;
– The Westville Little School Internship – in support of scholarships/stipends for PNW students engaged in an in-depth co-teaching experience; and
– Community partnerships – with the Westville Little School, Edgewood Elementary School in Michigan City, Library Sprouts reading program, the Early Childhood Conference and the Childhood Conversations series, which provide students opportunities to hone professional skills, pursue research projects and interact with prospective employers.
The Strosacker Foundation awarded more than $3 million in grants in 2015, according to its most recent annual report. The recent award to PNW expands the Charles J. Strosacker Foundation Endowment Fund for Early Childhood Education, which was established to honor Richard A. and Mary Lou Hazleton. The Hazletons attended Purdue University in West Lafayette and are dedicated advocates for education, young children and families.