Show your support for Excel By 5

Submitted by: Rita Tanksley Area Agent Mississippi State Extension Service

Concerned citizens in Winston County have decided to take the next step in becoming an Excel By 5 community. Excel By 5, started in 2004, is an innovative program that is designed to encourage and assist communities to become actively involved in supporting their young children. This certification program emphasizes the important roles parents and primary caregivers play in educating children during their most formative years, birth to five.

Excel By 5 is essentially a standard certification whereby communities that choose to can be formally recognized for their progress to support young children and their families. The project identifies gaps in community resources, promotes community collaboration, volunteerism and economic development. The overall goal is to expect children in Excel By 5 communities will be healthier and better prepared for kindergarten and first grade.

Communities begin the Excel By 5 certification process by forming a local leadership team made up of representatives from key community groups, including schools, churches, businesses, parents, hospitals, early care and education centers and government organizations. This project is community driven and cannot be a success without everyone’s involvement.

At present there are twenty-seven Excel By 5 Candidate and Certified Communities. The communities that have fulfilled all the requirements to become Certified Excel By 5 Early Childhood Communities are: Petal, Pascagoula, West Point, Mid-Jackson, Moss Point, Cleveland, Oktibbeha, and Biloxi. Excel By 5 certification requirements are divided into four groups: Community Involvement; Family and Parent Support; Early Care and Education; and Health and vary according to community size and capacity.

Join us for a meeting on Monday, November 12th, at 6:00 p.m., at the Winston County Extension Office as we take the next step to grow a community that boosts crucial early-childhood learning. Joining us on November 12th will be Bob Clay, Executive Director, and Gabrielle Phillips, Sites Coordinator for Excel By 5.

For more information contact Rita Tanksley at the Winston County Extension Office at 662-773-3091 or visit the Excel By 5 website at www.excelby5.com.