CT Businesses Enriching Scholars Together “BEST” Fund
|Valley community leaders support early childhood education with gifts to the CT BEST fund in 2014. Left to Right: Rick Foehrenback and Edward DeMarseilles of Curtiss-Ryan Honda, Terry Jones of Jones Family Farms and Sharon Closius of the Valley Community Foundation.
Terry Jones and the Jones Family Farm of Shelton established the CT BEST Fund at the Valley Community Foundation (VCF) as a vehicle for collective giving to provide children from low-income families a preschool experience.
Terry sits on the CT State Board of Education and understands the importance of a preschool experience. His vision is to bring together the private sector (businesses as well as individuals) to collectively help children from families whose socioeconomic situation impacts their ability to provide a quality preschool experience for their children. Research has shown that a child who does not have a preschool experience, begins Kindergarten on unequal footing with little hope of catching up. The cost to the school district for remediation only grows with time and the disparity contributes to CT’s achievement gap, which is the largest in the country.
“A few years ago, we were asked to adopt a street in Shelton – to be responsible for cleaning up roadside trash, etc.,” said Terry. “It struck me that if we could adopt a street and make an impact, maybe we could get the business community to “adopt” kids who would not otherwise be able to attend preschool.
The Jones Family has a long standing relationship with the Susanna Wesley School in Shelton and Terry approached Roberta Cenci, Executive Director of the school about running a pilot program at the prestigious Shelton preschool. Roberta and her board were honored to be asked and happy to be involved.
Terry began putting his Advisory team together and asked Roberta Cenci, David Morgan, Vice President, TEAM Early Childhood, and Bill Purcell, President of the Valley Chamber to help make an everlasting difference in a child’s life. The group has already developed great partnerships with the Boys and Girls Club and TEAM to identify children to participate in the program. Now they hope to attract the private sector to adopt one child at a time through a collective giving campaign.
“At the Farm, we spend our time growing trees from seeds,” said Terry. “The most critical time in that growth cycle is when we are nurturing the seedlings. There are unquestionable comparisons between seedlings and young children – the greatest return on investments for both to succeed happens early on. It is our responsibility as a society to help them as much as we can to grow and to thrive. Creating the BEST Program Fund at VCF moves us one step closer to achieving this goal.”