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UMass gets $11M to help Head Start

AMHERST- The Donahue Institute at the University of Massachusetts has been awarded $11 million to help strengthen over 100 community-based Head Start programs serving over 30,000 children across New England.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, awarded the money.

The grant is one of 12 awarded to regions across the country, but it is the only such grant awarded to a higher education institution.

The UMass Donahue Institute will form a 22-member team of early childhood experts and support personnel to assist with the program development; assure that Head Start programs across the region meet high standards; create new training programs for early childhood professionals; and make the expertise of UMass child development faculty available to Head Start agencies throughout New England.

"This is an important opportunity to bring Head Start programs in Massachusetts the resources and support they need to continue developing the Head Start workforce and providing the highest quality of services to children and families," said U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy.

Among the key goals of Head Start is to increase the percentage of early childhood teachers who have bachelor's degrees. UMass is currently designing plans to provide accessible education and professional development opportunities. "We want to mobilize our teaching expertise and technology to deliver first-rate early childhood care and education throughout New England," said UMass Donahue Institute Executive Director Dr. Lynn Griesemer.

The UMass Amherst University Without Walls program has already begun developing a degree completion program and is planning to pilot the program in the Greater Springfield area starting this winter. Meanwhile, UMassOnline, the university's nationally recognized five-campus distance learning initiative, is developing web-based child development degree programs that will first be marketed in New England but eventually to the rest of the country.

In addition, UMass faculty and staff from Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, Lowell, and Worcester Medical School campuses will be placed on an expert consulting list that will be made accessible to the 100 Head Start programs across New England.

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The UMass Donahue Institute is pre-approved to offer a variety of options for streamlined, simplified contracting both within Massachusetts and at the federal level.

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UMass Donahue Institute

University of Massachusetts

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100 Venture Way, Suite 9

Hadley, Massachusetts 01035

(413) 545-0001

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