ELLSWORTH — A new grant program from the Maine Community Foundation will allow five communities across the state an opportunity to ensure their youngest children receive a healthy start and arrive at kindergarten developmentally prepared to succeed in school and life.

The competitive grant program is part of the foundation’s early childhood strategic plan. Funding of up to $25,000 for each grantee will allow community members to organize, gather data about their 0-5 population, map community resources, identify barriers and develop an action plan to address challenges and improve kindergarten readiness.

“A child’s earliest experiences lay the foundation for future learning, behavior and health. Yet, in most schools, at least a third of entering kindergarten students lack the developmental skills necessary to succeed,” said Steve Rowe, president and CEO of the foundation. “We must do better and we believe local initiatives like this hold the greatest potential for success.”

Contributing partners to the program include the John T. Gorman Foundation and Michael and Denise Dubyak.

The deadline for applications is Friday, March 30. The online application and more details of the grant program are available at www.mainecf.org. For additional information, contact Stephanie Eglinton, senior program officer, 207-412-0837.

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