HIPPY financial gap filled by United Fund

Published 9:08 am Wednesday, November 10, 2010

HIPPY students learn about fire safety during a trip to the Atmore Fire Department earlier this year.|File Photo

Pre-school children in the Atmore area have seen an educational benefit if they have participated in the HIPPY program — thanks in part to funding from United Fund contributors.

The program is sponsored by the Friends of Education of Escambia County Foundation. Nancy Helton, a member of the Foundation, said funding for the program comes from various sources including United Fund.

“We do get state funding through a grant,” Helton said. “But, like everyone else who has been hit with proration our funding has been cut. The money from the grant never covers the number of children we have in the program.”

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Helton said the program served 36 children in its first year with that number growing to nearly 80 for the current year.

“We have continued to grow in the number of children we serve,” Helton said. “State guidelines show that the cost of providing this kind of education to a child averages $1,250 per child per year. Any funding not given to HIPPY through the grant has to be made up somewhere. United Fund certainly helps there.”

Diane Rose, director of the program for pre-kindergarten aged children, said funding made possible through contributions to United Fund have helped the program survive.

“Every penny counts and we certainly stretch it to the utmost,” Rose said. “We have four educators this year when we only had two educators last year.”

The program has not only seen growth in the number of students served, it has also seen growth in the quality of learning offered to the participants.

“The test results for the program are phenomenal,” Rose said. “At the beginning of the year last year, 29 percent of the students passed the pre-school readiness exam. By the time they graduated, 100 percent of the students passed the same exam.”

The community is destined to benefit from the educational opportunities offered by HIPPY through the program. With a better start, students tend to continue to do well in education.

“You can certainly spot a child who has had some help and ones who haven’t had anything,” Rose said. “The learning begins at the pre-school age and continues. Parents are the first teachers of a child and HIPPY helps to make it a good experience.”

United Fund is currently in a fund raising period helping to collect contributions to help some 19 local organizations continue serving the community.

To make a donation to United Fund, contact any United Fund board member or your employer for details. To make a contribution to HIPPY directly, contact any HIPPY director including Rose or Helton.