A recent article in the Napa Valley Register about the Napa Valley Early Learning Initiative (NVELI) pilot program, created by the Napa Valley Vintners, has generated questions about why the wine association supports local education.

Why is the Napa Valley Vintners interested in children’s education?

One of the goals of the Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) is to protect and enhance the Napa Valley. We believe we can help improve the quality of life for everyone in Napa County through strategic investments in the areas of children’s education and community health. Research supports that every dollar spent on high-quality early learning results in future savings on education, crime reduction and social services.

How was the NVELI created?

After two years of fact finding and research, the NVV determined that helping close the educational achievement gap between English learners and English-fluent children was one of the greatest education needs in Napa County.

We partnered with early childhood experts at First 5 Napa County to implement the NVELI pilot program in local Napa County schools. It has four main components:

- Family Strengthening: to engage hard to reach families and support parents of young children.

- Child Access: to provide high quality preschool experiences.

- Provider Quality: to support teachers with skills and coaching.

- Systems Change: to assure an integrated and streamlined process.

Which neighborhoods are involved?

Four high-need elementary school neighborhoods were selected for the pilot program: Shearer and Phillips in Napa, Napa Junction in American Canyon and Calistoga Elementary School.

What is the goal of the program?

Our hope is that NVELI will become a model for supporting and enhancing existing community services. We want to build collaboration among all who affect a child’s early education. The ultimate goal is to ensure that every child in Napa County enters kindergarten ready to learn.

Where did the money come from to create the NVELI?

NVV committed up to $5 million over five years to implement and test the pilot program. The money came from proceeds generated by our annual community fundraiser, Auction Napa Valley.

What are the results?

The NVELI pilot program is entering its fifth and final year and the results have been remarkable. According to the independent Applied Survey Research firm, English language-learning children who participated in the NVELI were three times more ready to enter kindergarten than their peers who did not participate. Each year of the pilot program, the NVELI has helped more than 1,500 Napa County children and their families increase their chances of early learning success.

What’s next?

The 2017-2018 school year is the final year of the NVELI pilot program. The NVV is now working with a team of early childhood development experts, community policymakers and grant development professionals to determine what’s next. The best practices developed through the NVELI have created such positive results we’re eager to find a way to continue the program for the future.

Want to learn more? Go to napavintners.com/nveli.

Ask the Vintners is a monthly column written by the Napa Valley Vintners nonprofit association. Submit your questions to ask@napavintners.com and learn more at napavintners.com.