FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Montessori Center of Minnesota Awarded $526,500 to Continue Effort to Provide High Quality Early Education to Children in Poverty
St. Paul, MN – January 8, 2013 The Montessori Center of Minnesota announces continued partnership and support from the Hiawatha Education Foundation in a $526,500 award granted over a period of three years to the Montessori For All project of the Center. The project’s mission is to develop a replication model making high quality early education experiences accessible to the most vulnerable children of Minnesota.
Research has shown living in poverty to be stressful for children’s development. In 2000, 114,000 children (9%) lived in poverty (for a family of four, $22,350 or less is considered below poverty) in Minnesota; by 2010 that number rose to 192,000 (15.2%), a 62% increase. The mission of the Montessori Center of Minnesota is to work toward closing the achievement gap by providing equity and excellence to all children of Minnesota, targeting those living in poverty.
Molly O’Shaughnessy, Executive Director of the Montessori Center of Minnesota states, “Historically, Montessori education has been primarily available to the affluent in the United States. Dr. Montessori began this work in 1907, however, with children living in poverty. It is time to return the method to its roots. We are working to ensure that all children of Minnesota, regardless of family income, are able to access high quality education. We are grateful for the continued vision and commitment from the Hiawatha Education Foundation to providing equity and excellence for all.”
In addition to two pilot schools, Cornerstone Montessori and Bright Water Montessori, Centro of Minneapolis has recently transitioned its traditional preschool program, called Siembra, to the Montessori model. Roxana Linares, Executive Director of Centro states, “We know that our children, which are mostly low income, start school with one hand tied behind their back. Their families have very low literacy skills and they do their best to support their children, but even though we work with them and we have a good school so far, we know that if we want them to succeed they need the best quality education. We thought Montessori would give them that edge they need to go into school ready and be able to graduate. We think that the Montessori curriculum will provide the best education for our children.” Siembra opened the doors to its totally remodeled preschool in October 2012.
This project was launched with an initial grant from the Hiawatha Education Foundation in 2010. Hiawatha Education Foundation president, Bob Kierlin, stated why he has chosen to direct giving to the project: “My interest in Montessori started when my late wife and I enrolled our two daughters in the Delahanty Montessori School in Winona. As a volunteer-run school, I participated at the board and officer level. When our kids grew up, I realized that all of the children who had been with them in the Montessori preschool program had excelled, regardless of what schools they later attended. My interest grew further when I served in the Minnesota State Senate. As a member of the Early Childhood Education Committee, I got to know many of the people who were involved at the time with the preschool programs. The Hiawatha Education Foundation (HEF) was started in 1987, but it wasn’t until the other founders had left to set up their own family foundations that my daughters and I decided to concentrate the HEF resources on giving more Minnesota at-risk kids a chance at a Montessori experience. We believe that the self-direction of the Montessori method is a huge advantage for these children in their early years.”
Two more schools affiliated with the Montessori For All project are in planning stages and are slated to open within the calendar year. The collaboration’s goal is opening a minimum of 10 schools within the next five years.
Director of Outreach Programs
Montessori Center of Minnesota