The PNC Foundation today funded hundreds of pre-K classroom requests as part of a new $5 million grant to DonorsChoose.org to provide teachers with enhanced classroom resources and experiences to inspire their students’ love of learning.

Today’s donation of $504,000 flash funded 849 projects in public and charter pre-K classrooms in 22 states and Washington, D.C. where The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (“PNC”) conducts business. The PNC Foundation entered the grant-funded alliance to further the mission of PNC Grow Up Great®, a $350 million, multi-year bilingual initiative in early childhood education.

The PNC Foundation’s gift to support pre-K classrooms also enables DonorsChoose.org to expand its education funding platform to include project requests from Head Start teachers for the first time. DonorsChoose.org is an online charity that connects individual donors with classrooms in need, and this is the first expansion to reach a new audience of teachers in DonorsChoose.org’s 17-year history.

“We’re thrilled to be a part of PNC’s longstanding commitment to early childhood learning,” said Charles Best, DonorsChoose.org founder. “Their generosity will help us expand the DonorsChoose.org platform to serve Head Start classrooms nationwide, ensuring that many more pre-K teachers have resources they need to give their students a solid educational foundation.”

Teacher requests for educational resources range from books to art supplies, science equipment, field trips and more, according to DonorsChoose.org. Frequent requests include technology and visits from specialized educators.

A recent study conducted by the National Head Start Association showed that 94 percent of teachers say they need more resources to enrich the classroom, but 84 percent say they are unable to fund experiences they want to provide.

The study also noted that 93 percent of those queried either considered buying or bought classroom supplies out of their own pockets; 88 percent reported spending up to $500.

“Head Start supports our nation’s most vulnerable children by offering a comprehensive, high-quality early learning experience that prepares them for kindergarten and strengthens family participation in their children’s learning,” said Yasmina S. Vinci, executive director, National Head Start Association. “Our research shows almost all Head Start teachers are spending their own dollars on basic resources for students. This is a great opportunity to empower Head Start teachers to secure the resources needed to maximize the Head Start advantage.”

Following the flash funding today, the PNC Foundation grant will also be used to match, dollar-for-dollar, donations that support pre-K and Head Start projects listed on DonorsChoose.org in the PNC footprint, subject to restrictions and a maximum dollar amount. The match is designed to encourage others to help support preschool programs in public or charter schools and Head Start classrooms. The duration of the match campaign depends on the number of project requests and donations.

“PNC’s work with DonorsChoose.org reflects our commitment to helping children get a strong start in life,” said PNC Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer William S. Demchak. “This program will directly improve pre-K teachers’ ability to help more students reach their full potential and, through their successes, will strengthen the communities we serve.”

Also, the PNC Foundation will provide 14,500 PNC employees who volunteered with Grow Up Great in 2016 $50 DonorsChoose.org electronic gift cards that will enable them to select classroom projects for those funds. Since Grow Up Great’s founding, PNC employees have logged more than 652,000 hours for the initiative through a progressive policy that allows 40 hours of paid time off each year to volunteer. Volunteers have collected more than 930,000 books, art supplies, hats, mittens and other items that have been donated for use in classrooms or for the personal well-being of preschool students.

“Our employees are a driving force behind Grow Up Great’s success and impact,” said Sally McCrady, president and chair of the PNC Foundation. “With this grant, we provide our employee volunteers another avenue to demonstrate PNC’s continuing support of early childhood learning as a way to help children and families thrive.”

For specific guidelines on the match offer, visit donorschoose.org.

Teachers and donors should visit http://www.DonorsChoose.org for more information.

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