Altgeld-Riverdale Innovation Zone Praised at State Conference
The Altgeld-Riverdale Early Childhood Innovation Zone, a partnership between BPI and a community-wide coalition, received accolades at a statewide conference earlier this month for successfully increasing preschool enrollment at the schools and centers within its borders.
“This Innovation Zone developed new pipeline strategies with a diverse array of community partners including the local housing authority, park district, public library, local health center, and several social service agencies. Together they are supporting area preschools and childcare centers in their efforts to increase early learning opportunities for families from priority populations. They found success one small win at a time, achieving between 80% and 100% enrollment in school and center-based early learning programs this year,” said Leah Pouw, who oversees all 11 of the state’s Innovation Zones for Illinois Action for Children. “The high levels of enrollment are the result of an organized and comprehensive effort to get all partners on board by engaging families in the enrollment process.”
In 2015, Illinois selected the Altgeld-Riverdale community as one of its statewide Innovation Zones, a testament to the strength of the work being done by BPI and our Early Learning Coalition. To earn the designation, the community needed to demonstrate strong leadership and collaborative relationships along with a commitment to serving high-needs children. Altgeld-Riverdale is home to about 4,000 residents, including approximately 800 children eight years or younger. Virtually all residents are low-income, and about half live in deep poverty, defined as 50 percent or less of the Federal Poverty Level.
BPI staff and our community partners attended the recent conference in Bloomington, which brought together individuals and organizations representing all 11 statewide Innovation Zones.
Over the summer, our Altgeld-Riverdale Innovation Zone brought enrollment opportunities directly to parents by partnering with their local library to host regular preschool enrollment hours. Parents received hands-on assistance in completing their preschool enrollment applications. The team also created Pre-K Welcome packets for social service providers to link families to the Pre-K referral network. Program teams at each preschool worked together to coordinate a community-wide celebration as a way to encourage as many families as possible to enroll. On the first day of preschool, families were greeted with red carpets, refreshments, and positive messages about the value of early childhood education.
While the funding for the Innovation Zones will end on December 31, the work will continue, as will our Early Learning Coalition’s commitment to ensuring high-quality early childhood education for all Altgeld-Riverdale children.Back To Blog