(June 6, 2018) -  The Foundry Christian Community Center Preschool Academy and After School Academy have earned a 5 STAR rating, the highest rating obtainable, under the Kentucky All STARS Tiered Quality Rating and Improvement System. Receiving the highest rating requires meeting standards of excellence in: classroom and instructional quality, family and community engagement, staff qualifications, leadership practice and professional learning.

Kentucky All STARS is Kentucky’s expanded five-star quality rating and improvement system for early care and education programs. Studies show that children who attend high quality early learning environments have better math, language and social skills. The unified system serves all early care and education programs that receive public funding including child care centers, Head Start and public preschool. Kentucky All STARS is based on Kentucky’s Early Childhood Standards and research-based indicators of quality. It recognizes programs that have made a commitment to continuous quality improvement.

The Foundry becomes the first Warren County child care and after school to receive five-star status and the second in the BRADD region. The Foundry is a nonprofit community center located in the West End of Bowling Green. Since its inception, The Foundry’s Board of Directors and partners have been determined to provide high-quality services to the neighborhood’s youngest children — its three and four year-olds at no charge to families. Obtaining 5 STAR status demonstrates that determination.

The process of becoming a five-star center began even before The Foundry’s doors opened in October 2015. The Foundry brought together a Preschool Development Team comprised of highly respected and qualified educators, researched and planned every aspect of launching a licensed, high-quality preschool.  A vision emerged for the Foundry Preschool Academy, and subsequently an After School Academy, to be a place where children are prepared educationally in a spiritually nurturing environment, and where parent involvement is essential and expected.

During the same time frame, United Way of Southern Kentucky was engaged in a transformation as well, resulting from an extensive 18-months of research into the needs of the Southern Kentucky community that began in 2012. Because of this research, United Way of Southern Kentucky identified Kindergarten Readiness as an issue on which to take a greater focus.  From the research, it was discovered that nearly 50% of local children in Southern Kentucky are entering kindergarten on day one deemed ‘not ready’ to succeed. Since that time and discovery, United Way has set forth a bold goal of increasing the number of children who are ready for kindergarten to 75% by the year 2020. To reach this goal, United Way has adjusted their funding structure to allow for 25% of annual funding to be specifically targeted at Kindergarten Readiness programs.

After learning of United Way’s new focus on Kindergarten Readiness, The Foundry applied for funding for the Preschool Academy for the 2016-17 funding cycle. Funding was specifically requested to equip an empty-but-waiting classroom to serve as a preschool classroom for 3-year-olds, including staff, furniture, and equipment. The United Way funded The Foundry’s request for the 2016-17 funding cycle for $32,000.

The following year, The Foundry requested funds to be used for available space to implement two additional classrooms (one for 3-year-olds, one for 4-year-olds) while also increasing support for parents (including additional parent workshops), expanding childcare during the sessions, and strengthening a coordinated curriculum. Upon United Way volunteer evaluation, The Foundry was awarded $49,308 for the 2017-18 funding cycle.

Partnerships like those with The Foundry is how United Way is working to meet its Bold Goal. According to Susan McCloud, Executive Director of The Foundry, 95% of the rising Foundry four-year-olds were deemed kindergarten ready at the end of the 2016-17 preschool year; 93% were kindergarten ready at the end of the 2017-18 preschool year. That rate tops kindergarten readiness rates across the Commonwealth and has been lauded by preschool authorities throughout Kentucky.

“It all goes back to quality,” McCloud said. “We were determined these young children could not succeed if we could not do everything in our power to make it happen. That starts with our commitment to full-day learning and a high-quality teaching staff that focuses every day on individual student progress. We may not have the latest technology, but our instructional staff know these kids, these families, and provide them exactly what they need when they need it.” 

And that is key in high-poverty neighborhoods. Children in poverty begin their school experience with an 18-month disadvantage in language development and basic skills. As these children enter elementary school they risk being so far behind they can never catch up.

Debbie Hills, President & CEO of United Way of Southern Kentucky, says, “What The Foundry Christian Community Center is accomplishing is nothing short of tremendous.  The work that they are doing is transforming the lives of children and their families and the five-star rating that they have earned is a testament to their exceptional quality.  When United Way talks about ‘moving the needle’ and measurable impact, The Foundry is a key part of the movement forward that is occurring in kindergarten readiness scores.  We are honored to have them as a partner in our community impact work.”

McCloud credits volunteers, donors, parents and the ongoing partnerships with organizations like United Way of Southern Kentucky and the school systems, “Achieving this rating underscores the commitment of The Foundry and our partners to the children we serve. They deserve a level playing field, an equal chance to succeed. We are doing everything in our power to make that happen.”

For more information about United Way’s work in Early Childhood Education, log on to the United Way of Southern Kentucky website at  

For more information about The Foundry Christian Community Center, log on to The Foundry website at

United Way of Southern Kentucky: United Way of Southern Kentucky (UWSK) is a local, independent, non-profit organization that works to identify and address the issues that matter most, change conditions and improve lives. The mission of United Way of Southern Kentucky is to be the leader in bringing together the resources to build a stronger, more caring community. United Way is focused on the building blocks for good quality of life – Education, Income, Health and Safety Net. Therefore, the vision of United Way is a Southern Kentucky where all residents are educated, healthy, and financially stable. Incorporated as a charitable non-profit entity in 1956, UWSK has long served a major role in the community by bringing people together to create opportunities that make a measurable difference in the quality of life for people where they live and work.

The Foundry Christian Community Center: John Wesley, the "father" of Methodism, leased an abandoned cannon factory in England and called it "The Foundry". Not only was it used for worship and Bible study, but it also served as a ministry center for the poor. The early Methodists used "The Foundry" to distribute food and clothing, help people start small businesses, tutor school children, teach literacy programs for adults, and host free medical and dental clinics. As United Methodists we stand in a theological tradition that affirms a life-giving faith and strong social engagement. As Methodists we believe our relationship to God calls us to seek the good of our neighbor in humble service.  In 2010, in the spirit of John Wesley, the Bowling Green District of the United Methodist Church felt the call to address the poverty in the West End of Bowling Green. That same year, the District purchased the former Boys and Girls Club, installed a Board of Directors, and the Foundry Christian Community Center was born in the heart of this area of great need in our community. The Foundry of today carries on the rich tradition of John Wesley's original Foundry. Our mission is to develop leaders among the children and young people of the West End of Bowling Green through education, health and fitness, and spiritual development. The Foundry is committed to joining our neighbors in doing whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to bring about spiritual and community transformation.

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