We believe that high-quality pre-school education is one of the best lines of defense against our dropout problem. Study after study has shown that increasing opportunities for high-quality pre-school provides a young child with educational advantages that result in:
- increased graduation rates
- better grades on standardized tests
- improved academic outcomes
- lower rates of crime and delinquency
- lower rates of teen pregnancy
- greater employment opportunities
- higher wages as adults
- reduced workforce absenteeism
- greater economic savings to schools and states
Major business groups such as the Committee for Economic Development and the Business Roundtable have recently taken stances in support of this issue of early childhood education as a matter of fundamental economic development. When a community factors in the higher number of school grades completed, lower rates of criminal activity, reduced time spent in prison, higher wages and other factors, the benefit-to-cost ratio comes to $17 for every $1 invested in early childhood education.
Champions of Education works to increase the opportunities for high-quality pre-school education through More at Four, NC's state-funded pre-school program serves four year old children who are "at risk" and prepares them for success in school. More at Four is provided free of charge to families who demonstrate a financial need, which is 75% of the state's median income.
To date, Champions of Education has worked with our schools and business partners to help start four More at Four classrooms at Longview Elementary, Catawba Elementary and two classrooms at Balls Creek Elementary. Business investment in the start-up of these More at Four classrooms has totaled $250,000 and have allowed us to leverage over $1 million in state funding. Not only does such business investment insure the future success of many of our at-risk children in Catawba County but it also demonstrates one of the best examples of business-education partnerships that are the mission of Champions of Education.