“I get so much personal fulfillment out of being part of this incredible and life-changing work.”
The comment came from Kristy Craig of ReadyKids! in Pensacola, Florida. Her official title is executive director. But she really has more of a mission than a role. That mission is to give young learners hands-on academic support in ways that set the stage for greater success in school – and in life.
“We are a local grassroots nonprofit with no state or federal funding, so the importance of the generosity from donors and sponsors in our community cannot be overstated,” said Craig.
That makes a new $15,000 grant from the Regions Foundation all the more important. The foundation is a nonprofit that’s funded primarily by Regions Bank. Supporting education is one of the foundation’s top goals, making ReadyKids! a perfect fit.
ReadingPals is setting our littlest learners up for success by equipping them with the skills to not only begin reading, but also develop a lifetime love of learning.
Marta Self, executive director of the Regions Foundation
ReadyKids! students participate in ReadingPals, a statewide early literacy initiative that provides volunteer mentors for students who may need extra help. That help is delivered in one-on-one or small-group settings. In Escambia County, ReadingPals volunteers help 4-year-old pre-kindergarten students build strong early literacy skills necessary for kindergarten success.
“ReadingPals is setting our littlest learners up for success by equipping them with the skills to not only begin reading, but also develop a lifetime love of learning,” explained Marta Self, executive director of the Regions Foundation. “This is benefiting children not only today, but also in the years to come as they build on their education.”
In 2022, 55% of Escambia County children who started kindergarten were not ready, as measured by the Florida Department of Education. The Regions Foundation’s contribution will assist ReadyKids! in providing the more than 200 children taking part with an additional layer of social and emotional support by providing them with a caring adult outside of their home and classroom who provides trust and encouragement.
ReadingPals is part of a three-prong approach to kindergarten readiness that includes:
- Supporting students through one-on-one mentorships;
- Supporting their families with monthly book donations and weekly resources sent directly to their phones;
- And supporting educators with requested classroom supplies, resources and extra hands.
“There are so many smiles and happy faces when I walk by and observe interactions,” said Dr. Kimberly Thomas, principal of C.A. Weis Elementary School. “Students also interact by reading aloud, extending their verbal communication and improving their vocabulary.”
Scott Barrow, market executive for Regions Bank in Pensacola, presented ReadyKids! a $15,000 check on behalf of the Regions Foundation at C.A. Weis Elementary School.
“This is an investment in the success of students, families and our entire community,” Barrow said. “We appreciate our colleagues at the Regions Foundation for recognizing this important work that is uplifting children and families in Escambia County.”
And it’s an investment that’s deeply appreciated by ReadyKids! – and the children who will be served.
“We are incredibly grateful for the community partnership with the Regions Foundation as champions of our mission and for the Foundation’s critical role in supporting our young learners and future workforce,” Craig concluded.
About Regions Foundation
The Alabama-based Regions Foundation supports community investments that positively impact communities served by Regions Bank. The Foundation engages in a grantmaking program focused on priorities including economic and community development; education and workforce readiness; and financial wellness. The Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation funded primarily through contributions from Regions Bank.
About Regions Financial Corporation
Regions Financial Corporation (NYSE:RF), with $156 billion in assets, is a member of the S&P 500 Index and is one of the nation’s largest full-service providers of consumer and commercial banking, wealth management, and mortgage products and services. Regions serves customers across the South, Midwest and Texas, and through its subsidiary, Regions Bank, operates approximately 1,250 banking offices and more than 2,000 ATMs. Regions Bank is an Equal Housing Lender and Member FDIC. Additional information about Regions and its full line of products and services can be found at www.regions.com.
Founded in 2007, ReadyKids! is a leader in the early literacy space for prekindergarten students in Escambia County. ReadyKids! focuses on mentoring students in a 1:1 setting, engaging families as their child’s first and best teacher, and supporting educators – all to maximize children’s potential through increased school readiness. Visit ReadyKidsFL.org to learn how you can become a champion for Escambia County children.