Alexandria Playgroups Score Grant Funding
The Giving Circle of Alexandria awarded a $50,000 grant Wednesday to the Center for Alexandria’s Children.
The Center for Alexandria’s Children has received a $50,000 grant from The Giving Circle of Alexandria Wednesday to strengthen and expand the center’s developmental playgroups for children up to age 5 and their caregivers.
The center currently runs nine playgroups in Alexandria. The groups provide opportunities where children learn through play and adults learn about child development and positive parenting strategies from experts and from each other.
Center Chairman Nigel Morris accepted an oversize check on behalf of the children’s center Wednesday afternoon.
“Having watched The Giving Circle over the years, I’ve watched the wonderful things that you do,” Morris said. “We’re incredibly proud and pleased that you’ve taken such an interest in the CAC. … I think the playgroups have been a blistering success, and your incredibly kind and generous contribution goes a long way to allowing us to be able to now have nine different playgroups.”
Deb Roepke, The Giving Circle gift committee chairwoman, said the grant was the culmination of a couple of years of working with the children’s center. “We’re just so thrilled to have been a part of that as it’s evolved and helped take it to the next step.”
Children’s center Executive Director Giselle Pelaez called the day exciting. “We’ve been getting support from The Giving Circle for many years, but this particular gift, and the size of this gift, really has enabled us to grow from just six months ago (when we had) three playgroups, to nine,” she said. “So, we’re super excited about expanding and really hitting vulnerable populations, growing this effort and filling a gap in terms of early childhood needs in the city.”
The Giving Circle President Tracy Nickelsburg said the organization recently commissioned a study that looked at a variety of playgroups run by nonprofits in Alexandria and gave recommendations for best practices to maximum the programs’ effectiveness. That study gave rise to the Alexandria Citywide Playgroup Initiative, and the children’s center has taken a leadership role in overseeing the initiative.
The playgroups aim to fill a gap in early childhood opportunities in the city, where many young children lack the socialization and language development that they need to enter school ready to learn, according to the center. The groups also provide struggling families with guidance and support in the challenges of parenting.
Carri Stoltz, program director for playgroups at the children’s center, said most groups run from 10 to 11:30 a.m. and are open to the public. Caregivers stay with the children the entire time as they sing songs, listen to stories, play with other children and learn to build their vocabulary. Right now, the groups just finished a curriculum on winter and are beginning one on animals.
“Hopefully (it improves) their social skills,” Stoltz said. “They have an opportunity to be with other children. they learn how to be in a group situation, to listen to a story, to share and take turns with other children, to produce an art project, to follow directions, how to create something. We give them to opportunity to creatively express themselves.”
Learn more about the playgroups here.