September 30, 2020
Thanks to winning a contest recently held throughout their entire company, PNC Bank staff in central Illinois helped enrich the education of students enrolled in the RPC’s Early Childhood Education Program. The prize for winning the competition allowed them to donate five iPads to their partner centers, and they chose to donate those to the RPC.
Last April, PNC provided the Illinois Head Start Association a grant to supply food to families with children enrolled in Head Start and Early Head Start, both of which the RPC’s Early Childhood Education Program operates in Champaign County. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, families were and still are experiencing food insecurity due to job loss or reduced work hours, as well as high demand in grocery stores leading to empty shelves, especially for those who do not have the means to stock up.
The PNC grant has allowed Champaign County families to pick up food through a drive-up process, or for those without access to reliable transportation, to have food delivered. The food distribution has also allowed RPC Early Childhood Education staff to maintain some interaction with the families, which serves as a critical touchpoint during a stressful time to ensure child welfare and overall family health, safety, and security while complying with social distancing recommendations. From June through August, the RPC was able to provide food to families representing 819 children (more food distribution days were conducted in September).
Also, for nearly 10 years PNC has been working with WILL/Illinois Public Media and the RPC supporting the Book Mentor Project. This multi-media initiative increases literacy and provides support materials for teachers, students, and parents. It also builds home libraries and engages children in math, science, and social-emotional activities. This collaboration provides multimedia literacy training for teachers, volunteers, and parents while placing pairs of Book Mentor volunteers in Head Start classrooms to read with the children and lead a related hands-on activity.