UF receives $1 million to boost skills of Florida’s early learning educators
GINESVILLE, Fla. — The Jim Moran Foundation has awarded a $1 million grant to the University of Florida College of Education to provide access to the latest teaching tools for the state’s 55,000 early learning educators.
The funding will boost the college’s transformational Early Learning Florida program, a first-of-its-kind online professional development system.
“We’re thrilled and grateful,” said Don Pemberton, director of the UF Lastinger Center for Learning, the college’s innovation incubator that is implementing the program. “We’ll use this money to improve learning and development for hundreds of thousands of young children by providing new tools and resources to build the skills of early learning professionals.”
Built through community support, Early Learning Florida offers online and face-to-face instruction and continuing education with the latest course content, plus new certification programs for technical assistance coaches. State-funded stipends for early learning providers who successfully complete the course also are made available.
“By partnering with the Lastinger Center on this innovative initiative, we are helping create a standard for early learning that equips classroom teachers with the knowledge and know-how to provide all our children with a solid foundation for future academic success,” said Jan Moran, chairman and president of The Jim Moran Foundation, based in Deerfield Beach, Fla.
Early Learning Florida dovetails with one of UF’s priority research initiatives to “optimize” early childhood learning and development. Early childhood studies are a vital component of UF’s preeminence push — backed by the Florida Legislature — to become one of the nation’s top 10 public research universities.
Pemberton said The Jim Moran Foundation grant – which will be dispersed in equal payments over the next three years – also serves as an endorsement of the foundation’s belief in the importance of early learning.
“We are humbled to receive such a generous investment in our work from a foundation that honors the memory and extends the legacy of one of Florida’s greatest entrepreneurs and humanitarians,” he said.
The Jim Moran Foundation is one of four major philanthropic organizations that, together, have donated more than $3 million over multiple years to support Early Learning Florida.
The other three contributors are the Helios Education Foundation ($900,000), which supports education reform in Florida and Arizona; the Florida-based Lastinger Family Foundation ($500,000); and $600,000 from an Ohio-based foundation that has asked to remain anonymous.
About The Jim Moran Foundation
Founded by automotive pioneer Jim Moran, the mission of The Jim Moran Foundation is to improve the quality of life for the youth and families of Florida through the support of innovative programs and opportunities that meet the ever-changing needs of the community. The Foundation has invested more than $50 million in education, elder care, family strengthening, and youth transitional living initiatives since its inception in 2000 — with efforts currently focused in Broward, Palm Beach and Duval counties. Through a long-term grant agreement, The Foundation’s significant funders are JM Family Enterprises, Inc., and its subsidiaries, including Southeast Toyota Distributors, LLC. It is located at 100 Jim Moran Blvd., Deerfield Beach, Fla. 33442. To learn more, visit www.jimmoranfoundation.org or call (954) 429-2122.
About the UF Lastinger Center for Learning
Part of the University of Florida, the Lastinger Center is the College of Education’s educational innovation incubator. It harnesses the university’s intellectual resources to design, build, field-test and scale models that advance teaching, learning and healthy child development. The center continuously evaluates and refines its work, widely disseminates its findings and roots its initiatives in a growing network of partner sites around the state and country.
Writer: Stephen Kindland, staff writer, UF College of Education; email@example.com