A Vision for Systems Change
Creating PEAK, the Pottstown Early Action Kindergarten Readiness Initiative
Throughout the region, communities are dealing with the impact of the shift from local manufacturing towards a global economy that prizes technology and information. Leaders in Pottstown, once a center of industry, knew they had to respond to this shift for the city to be prepared to compete in the knowledge economy. Recognizing the critical importance of a child’s earliest educational experiences to longer-term life outcomes, leaders of the Pottstown school district, Head Start and private and community-based human services providers turned to Fairmount to envision and plan a comprehensive early childhood education (ECE) and school readiness system.
Fairmount’s deep expertise in supporting systems change was brought to bear in convening the key actors, some of which were accustomed to working together, others of which were competitors, to answer the question: How do we get children ready for learning? Together, we identified the components of a seamless ECE and school readiness system that engages parents, enrolls more children, teaches them the same core curriculum, supports high-quality teachers, provides medical and behavioral health supports, and assures that every child enters kindergarten ready to learn. Fairmount developed the business plan to operationalize this ambitious vision. The plan was grounded in understanding of public policy, identified a financial model that leveraged state and federal funding while also attracting significant support from philanthropy, and established an organizational structure to support and sustain the entire system.
The result was PEAK: Pottstown Early Action for Kindergarten Readiness. Today, PEAK is a nationally recognized ECE model demonstrated to improve childhood success, from academic readiness to overall health and wellness. PEAK partners are committed to sustaining this successful initiative and continue to tap Fairmount for business planning and resource development support for a system-refresh in the context of changes in public sector funding streams.