Early childhood education project announced
Four Virginia community colleges will collaborate on a project aimed at improving early childhood education in Southern and Southwest Virginia.
The program, the Davenport Early Childhood Development Institute, is being funded by a $1 million gift by philanthropists Ben and Betty Davenport of Chatham.
The institute, announced during a weekend gala celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Virginia Community College System, will partner with Danville, Patrick Henry, Virginia Western and New River community colleges.
The purpose of the project is to create a talented workforce in Southern and Southwest Virginia by ensuring access to high-quality training and education for individuals working in child-care centers or family child-care homes. The institute also will focus on increasing access to high-quality child-care options for working parents.
Programming will include training, a network of professional development opportunities, coaching, and a fellows program, which will provide select students with financial incentives, service opportunities and leadership experiences.
“We believe every child should have the opportunity to have a successful, productive life,” the Davenports said in a statement. “We like to compare childhood development to planting a crop. You would never sow the seeds without first preparing the ground and nurturing the planting until time to harvest. Similarly, children need proper care and educational instruction from the beginning of life. The Virginia Community College System is at the forefront of providing the training to make this happen.”
Davenports are longtime philanthropists with a special interest in education. Betty Davenport has served on the board of Smart Beginnings Danville/Pittsylvania. Ben Davenport is director emeritus and a former board chairman of the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation. He is chairman of Davenport Energy and First Piedmont Corp. in Chatham.