Federal grant helps bring early education to rural Montana families

HELENA – Rural Montana families will now have a new way to prepare their children for kindergarten at home thanks to a large federal grant.  

The United States Department of Education awarded the nonprofit organization, Waterford.org an Education Innovation and Research Expansion Grant with a goal of finding solutions to rural educational challenges. 

Waterford.org says with Montana being the fourth largest state in the country, a lot of those families in rural areas don’t have access to preschool and this grant will help those children have an opportunity to early childhood education.  

“The best thing we can do is empower the parents as the child's first teacher and give them the tools they need to prepare their child,” says Kim Fischer, Director of Public Relations, Waterford.org. “So when they walk into the door that first day of kindergarten, they are ready to go.” 

The federal grant will fund the Waterford UPSTART Program which will help educate parents on how to be their child’s first teacher.  

The program will allow parents to log in and track their child’s progress to see where they’re excelling or where they may be falling behind, along with giving them the tips they need to address those things.  

The whole idea of Waterford UPSTART is to get children ready to go before that first day of kindergarten, so they start off on the right path throughout the rest of their schooling,” says Fischer. 

This $14.2 million grant will bring the Waterford UPSTART Program to five western states, including Montana. They will be enrolling 200 children into the program this year and up to 400 children by the start of the next school year. 

Waterford says this program will help take the burden off of parents and help give them the tools they need to help their kids. Families can register by clicking here. Spots are limited and enrollment ends May 15, 2020.


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