(May 1, 20o8) The gauntlet has been thrown and the challenge issued: Who else will help give a child access to a brighter future?

The Roxbury Weston Programs, a section 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organization, has been awarded a generous challenge grant for the Roxbury Weston Preschool by an anonymous donor who has issued a match challenge for the preschool’s scholarship fund.

It has always been the philosophy and mission in the 43 year history of RoxWes to provide full access to a high quality education, which has been upheld through their scholarship fund. The program creates an intentional environment of race, class and culture and speaks to diversity, cultural awareness and equal access for all. The preschool, which is accredited with the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), equally serves the MetroWest suburbs and Boston neighborhoods.

The donor, whose generosity throughout the years has helped many RoxWes children, was adamant to remain anonymous. However, the individual wants others to realize just how powerful the RoxWes scholarships are. Not only do the scholarships directly benefit the children and families who need them, especially now as tough economic times are severely impacting the families’ finances, but they also serve the community at large.

Leading early childhood education research has found that a high quality preschool education helps children achieve far more in elementary school through high school and beyond by providing them with the self-confidence and skills necessary to learn. The children also develop better language and social skills and have fewer behavioral problems.

According to the research, these children will transition into kindergarten better and adapt to elementary grades better than those who do not receive a high quality preschool education. Children are better prepared in the areas of reading, writing, spelling, math reasoning and problem solving. These children will score higher on MCAS tests and will perform better in middle and high school grades, effectively closing the achievement gap, which is now wider than ever.

Furthermore, the same research found that children who had received high quality early education are less likely to drop out of high school, are less likely to be dependent on welfare or arrested for criminal activity. The same studies also show higher rates of college entrance and graduation. As adults, they become more engaged as citizens, and become skilled productive workers who can meet future labor force demands.

The achievement gap is in place by the time a child is five years old, which is why access to high quality preschool is so important to closing the gap. But quality is not always affordable. Children who are placed in day care centers that do not meet high quality education standards, have no qualified teachers, no curriculum aimed at the child’s developmental growth and no educational support for school success will suffer educationally.

Rising living costs are heavily affecting those in the lower middle income brackets but they do not qualify for state education subsidies because they simply make too much money in the eyes of the state. Even paying a subsidized tuition is becoming a huge financial burden. This is a growing situation that is not specific to any one town.

Roxbury Weston Programs, which houses the preschool and the NAEYC accredited after school program CATCH, does not receive any state funds. All the money available for scholarships is raised through generous donations and grants, but the need is far exceeding the supply. Approximately half of the children enrolled in the preschool and most of the children at CATCH receive a subsidized tuition rate or a full scholarship.

The Roxbury Weston Preschool’s NAEYC accreditation has been maintained for ten years with commendations for excellence. It is considered to be the “gold standard” in education accreditation and is the mark of high quality in early education and care. Only 17% of the state’s school-based pre-kindergarten programs are accredited.

Challenge grants are not uncommon in the fields of arts and humanities as well as education. It is a method used to create more awareness and funds for a particular non-profit. To learn more about Roxbury Weston Programs, its scholarship fund, or the benefits of a high quality early education, please visit the various webpages here or call 781-891-6710.