“I want to go to school” is a refrain every parent and educator wants to hear. Especially during the critical kindergarten year that often sets the stage for a child’s future academic success.

The seed for the Napa Valley Early Learning Initiative was planted when the Napa Valley Vintners decided to help close the school readiness gap in Napa County by increasing the number of spots available for children to attend a quality preschool. The Vintners committed $5 million over five years to the project.

The NVV partnered with the Napa County Office of Education and First Five Napa County to pilot the initiative in four elementary school areas with an NCOE-operated state preschool on campus or a private preschool nearby, a high population of English language learners, and a principal willing to try something new. The four school areas were Napa Junction in American Canyon, Shearer and Phillips Elementary in Napa, and Calistoga Elementary School.

As related in the Napa Valley Register, “Napa Valley Vintners seek support for progressive Napa Valley Early Learning Initiative,” the NVELI has demonstrated significant success. English language learners who participated in NVELI programs, including NCOE’s Digital Early Learning program, were three times more ready for kindergarten than those who didn’t receive services. At least 1,500 parents and children have received services through NVELI for each year of the program.

The pilot phase of the program is coming to an end and a countywide leadership team, consisting of program directors involved in parent engagement and early childhood education, is working with the NVV to transition the NVELI into a long-lasting and expanded program of these proven services.

There is nothing more important than fostering a love of learning in our children and closing the achievement gap before kindergarten, so all children get off to a great educational start. We are excited to share NVELI’s success with the community and the nation. If you would like to learn more or become a supporter, contact the NVELI Program Director, Michelle Laymon at NVELI@napavintners.com.

Barbara Nemko

Napa County Superintendent of Schools

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