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Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Public Library (CPL) today announced a mobile early learning program to deliver early learning enrichment opportunities in neighborhoods where children can benefit from additional enrichment experiences. The services will be delivered on-site at over 200 early childhood centers in high priority, high need communities. The STEAM mobile units will allow the city to serve approximately 8,000 children per year through multiple visits.
“If our children cannot get to some of Chicago’s world-class cultural institutions, the City of Chicago will bring the education that those institutions provide directly to their classrooms,” said Mayor Emanuel. “The STEAM mobile units will give more students access to this high quality learning model, ensuring that they are prepared for a successful future.”
The curriculum, developed collaboratively with the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry and aligned with Early Head Start standards, includes several hands-on STEAM learning activities for young children along with family literacy programming facilitated by librarians. CPL will dispatch three vans with these STEAM-based learning kits throughout the city – one for each Library District.
Additionally, families from partner early literacy sites will be included in quarterly STEAM and Early Literacy Parent Workshops in nearby neighborhood branch libraries. These programs will be co-facilitated by Chicago Public Library and the Museum of Science and Industry.
"Strengthening communities and nurturing learning are strategic priorities for Chicago Public Library and this program allows us to expand our programs outside library walls and reach children we otherwise would not," said Chicago Public Library Commissioner Brian Bannon. "We are excited to expand our high quality programs to Chicago's youngest learners."
CPL also recently launched their signature summer program, Rahm’s Readers Summer Learning Challenge, which includes a focused early learning component for Rahm’s Little Readers. This free, drop-in program at CPL locations for kids ages five and under will offer new books about outer space and space travel, hundreds of family programs, art projects, STEAM activities and many more ways for kids to keep their brains active.
Early childhood education remains a priority for Mayor Emanuel. Earlier this year, HHS renewed Chicago’s Head Start funding due to the strength of the city’s programs. As a result, the City of Chicago was awarded $600 million for early childhood education programming over the next five years. After taking office in 2011, Mayor Emanuel established the Early Childhood Education Task Force to overhaul the City’s programs; serve the most at-risk children in high–quality programs; and increase transparency and accountability of the City and individual programs.
Following the implementation of full-day kindergarten, starting next school year, Mayor Emanuel will expand pre-kindergarten (pre-K) education to approximately 25,000 4-year old children who qualify for the federal free or reduced school lunch program. Mayor Emanuel and the City will also triple the number of full-day pre-K programs – from 100 today to 300 – by 2019. This expansion will bring full-day programs to 4,000 additional children at CPS.
To improve accessibility for parents, the City developed an Early Learning Portal that serves as a one-stop-shop to help parents find programs, assess program quality, and understand their child’s eligibility for programs. The online portal is also accessible to families without Internet access through a text messaging service and phone hotline. Parents interested in enrolling their children in early learning programs should visit www.chicagoearlylearning.org for more information.
About the Chicago Public Library
Since 1873, the Chicago Public Library (CPL) has encouraged lifelong learning by welcoming all people and offering equal access to information, entertainment and knowledge through innovative services and programs, as well as cutting-edge technology. Through its 80 locations, the Library provides free access to a rich collection of materials, both physical and digital, and presents the highest quality author discussions, exhibits and programs for children, teens and adults.
CPL received the Social Innovator Award from Chicago Innovation Awards; won a National Medal for Library Services from the Institute for Museum and Library Services and was ranked number one in the U.S. and third in the world by an international study of major urban libraries conducted by the Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf in Germany. For more information, please call (312) 747-4050 or visit chipublib.org.