The Starting Strong program is vital to our community. But don’t take our word for it. Listen to the testimonials from people in our community who benefit the most.

Starting Strong is a preschool scholarship program for three and four-year-old children as well as a quality-building tool for participating preschool programs. To date, it is one of the largest investments the John T. Vucurevich Foundation has made in the community ($4.4 million).

This program helps to fill the gap for families that earn too much to qualify for Head Start but still earn too little to truly afford preschool for their child. Our grantee Early Childhood Connections recruits families and helps them enroll their child in a quality preschool of their choice from participating providers. Participating providers also receive quality dollars from this grant that can be used for professional development, environmental improvements, and staff retention.

Fully Employed Single Mom

Bethany Carbajal shares how Starting Strong helped enroll her children in high quality preschool that was financially out of reach, even though she is employed full time and doesn’t qualify for other assistance program.

Two Parents Seeking Higher Education

Eldridge Grinnell and Teri Young Bear share how Starting Strong helped prepare their children to enter kindergarten ready to learn, make friends, and be away from Mom and Dad.

Family Experiencing Lay-Offs

The Ferguson Family share how the Starting Strong program helped their child thrive after they were laid off and didn’t think they would be able to afford a high-quality preschool.

Preschool Teachers

Nicole Weiss of the YMCA of Rapid City shares why high-quality preschool is important for families and how the Starting Strong program helps families get the high-quality experience they deserve.

Kindergarten Teachers

Telia Warren, Anne Penland, and Callie Klopfenstein, Kindergarten teachers at General Beadle Elementary share why high-quality preschool gives children a jump start so they arrive at kindergarten ready to learn.