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Women’s Philanthropy Network Awards $36,250 to PRIME TIME for Early Childhood Education in Caddo

The Women’s Philanthropy Network (WPN,) a giving circle of The Community Foundation of North Louisiana, voted at its annual meeting on May 17, 2017 to award Step Forward a grant of $35,913 to improve kindergarten readiness, and to award Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities $36,250 to work with early childhood learning centers and parents to strengthen family literacy engagement.

Step Forward is a collective impact initiative whose Early Childhood Working Group focuses on addressing the 30 million word gap, increasing the quality of interactions between parents and their young children, and better preparing all of our students for kindergarten. Complimenting these strategies, the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities will work at five local early childhood learning centers to train thirty early childhood teachers and 75 families how to best support reading with young children, regardless of their parents’ education level. These nonprofits will work collaboratively, using data to reach the children most in need.

Women’s Philanthropy Network chair, Charlotte Walter, said “For the past ten years, the women of the WPN have been pooling their donations to improve public education in Caddo Parish. This year we focused on Early Childhood, believing that many who start off behind never catch up, and with today’s grants, we have a great opportunity to make an impact.” Grants Chairwoman, Melissa Simon, said, “The WPN grants committee is a great way for those who care about public education to learn more about innovations in the school system and to contribute to grants that ramp up progress in Caddo.”

The keynote speaker at the meeting was Tony Davis, Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) representative for our region, who re-iterated the importance of high quality early childhood education.

New officers and committee chairs for the 2017-2018 year were elected. Betty Henderson will serve as chair of the WPN. Other officers are Laurie Lyons, chair-elect; Melissa Simon, grants committee chair; Charlotte Walter, nominating chair; Janie Richardson and Becky Cooksey, membership co-chairs; and Peggy Murphy and Carolyn Murphy, program co-chairs.

The members of the Women’s Philanthropy Network pool their charitable gifts in order to make strategic, high-impact grants in the area of education.  Since its founding in 2005, The Women’s Philanthropy Network has awarded $977,927 to area schools and nonprofits for reading programs, math instruction, mentoring, teacher development, student incentives, field trips and book clubs.  The organization also has accumulated more than $300,000 in endowment funds managed by The Community Foundation.

For more information on The Women’s Philanthropy Network, please contact Paula Hickman, Executive Director of The Community Foundation, at 318-221-0582, or go to