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Bloomberg Philanthropies, through its What Works Cities initiatives, has selected Louisville as one of five American cities to implement an innovative early childhood education program designed to empower parents and caregivers with tools to support language development at a critical age — and help children enter kindergarten classroom ready.

The National Center for Families Learning (NCFL), in partnership with Louisville Metro Government, Jefferson County Public Schools, Metro United Way, and other community partners that make up the Ready for K Alliance, will expand its Say & Play with Words initiative. This expansion will incorporate the curriculum of Providence Talks, a Bloomberg-funded program in Providence, R.I. In addition to Bloomberg Philanthropies, Say & Play with Words is funded by Lift a Life Foundation, Louisville Metro Government, PNC Grow Up Great®, Metro United Way, the Gheens Foundation, and C. E. and S. Foundation.

“We’re thankful to Bloomberg Philanthropies and our local partners for supporting Louisville families with the needed support to be ready for school on Day 1,” Mayor Greg Fischer said. “Louisville is in a period of unprecedented economic momentum, but we know the benefits aren’t being experienced equally across the community. There’s a disparity with deep and disturbing roots in our history. Through efforts such as Say & Play with Words, SummerWorks, Evolve502 and more, our core city value of lifelong learning continues to be a major piece of our efforts to erase this disparity.”

The expanded Say & Play with Words program, championed and supported by the community partners over the next three years, will be centered on creating playgroups and parent groups in targeted Louisville ZIP code areas that demonstrate high percentages of children not ready for kindergarten.

NCFL will serve as the lead implementor of the expansion, building on existing city infrastructure with new and current NCFL partner sites. The local effort will integrate innovative LENA (Language ENvironment Analysis) technology to track and measure words used in the home to gauge parent behavior change as a result of participation. Over three years, more than 1,200 families will participate in Say & Play with Words.

“The National Center for Families Learning is excited to lead our community partners in the expansion of Say & Play with Words. This inaugural support from Bloomberg Philanthropies allows us to engage parents and children together in informal settings like play groups and parent-facilitated parent groups. In our 30 years of working with millions of families across the country, we have found that the two key ingredients to support the success of the family are: empowering parents through education and bringing the family together to learn.” Sharon Darling, CEO & Founder of NCFL shared.

Combined with local investments, the support provided across five cities totals nearly $12 million over three years. The other four cities that are replicating Providence Talks are: Birmingham, AL; Detroit, MI; Hartford, CT; and Virginia Beach, VA.

Providence Talks was the first-ever Grand Prize Winner of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge, an innovation competition that awards and promotes cities with bold, inventive ideas that address urgent challenges and have the most potential for impact and the ability to spread to other cities.

The program provides families with a small recording LENA device known as a ‘word pedometer’ that counts adult words spoken in a child’s presence, as well as the number of conversational interactions a child engages in during the day. Research shows that robust exposure to words and conversation—from birth to age four—is crucial for children’s vocabulary building and brain development.

“Providence Talks shows just why we launched the Mayors Challenge: to help cities take on big challenges, test innovative ideas, and then spread what works best,” said Michael Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies and the 108th Mayor of New York City. “Providence Talks has had promising results, helping thousands of young children increase their language development. Today, we’re glad to help five new cities adapt the program and work to achieve similar progress.”

A Brown University study of Providence Talks found:

  • Children who participated in the program made significant gains in the number of words they heard and turns they took in conversations and in language development.
  • In the Home Visitation model, 56% of all children showed growth in the number of adult words they heard and 42% increased their number of turns taken in conversations.
  • In the Playgroup model, 73% of all the children showed growth in the number of adult words they hear daily and 56% increased their number of turns taken in conversations.
  • The largest gains were seen in children who started the furthest behind. These children, on average, showed a 51% growth in the number of adult words they hear daily, going from an average of 8,000 to over 12,100 words per day. This jump from the 11th to the 42nd percentile in eight months is substantial, moving from the lowest quartile of words heard to about the average level.
  • By the end of the program, children in the program showed, on average, a 15 percentile point increase in the Developmental Snapshot score, a tool used to measure a child’s development progress (or language skills).

Bloomberg Philanthropies will support this programming with grants in each city. Cities will also receive the technology and software, including talk pedometer devices, software, and other tools required to replicate the approach. These critical technological resources are provided by LENA, a national nonprofit organization that develops technology to measure talk.

Mayor Greg Fischer today joined representatives from Jefferson County Public Schools, Louisville Urban League, community organizations and local youth to kick off Louisville’s participation in National Youth Violence Prevention Week, a week-long initiative to raise violence prevention awareness and strategies for youth, parents, teachers, school personnel and community members to prevent youth violence before it happens.

“We owe it to our youth to do all we can as a community to keep them, their families and our neighborhoods safe, because witnessing violent crime, worrying about violent crime or being part of a violent crime should never be normal for any child,” Mayor Fischer said. “This week shows the important role young people can have, and want to have, in making their communities safer.”

From April 8 to April 12, nearly 100 activities, trainings, art projects and anti-violence campaigns will be held by Louisville schools and other youth-serving organizations throughout the community. This year’s theme is “Be A Superhero: Activate your Superpowers.”

The week is a partnership among Mayor Fischer’s Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods, Jefferson County Public Schools, Cities United, Brown-Forman, Community Foundation of Louisville, Metro United Way, Peace Education, Centerstone, Muhammad Ali Center, Center for Women and Families, Louisville Metro Police and other groups, and part of a national initiative organized by Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE), an initiative of Newtown, Connecticut-based group Sandy Hook Promise.

“Our students are taking innovative steps to ensure a positive culture and climate in our schools, not just this week but throughout the year,” said Dr. Marty Pollio, superintendent of Jefferson County Public Schools. “From developing campaigns to building strategies to peacefully resolve issues, our school communities are coming together to lead by example. Safety is our highest priority and the efforts underway right now highlight our commitment to protecting students.”

According to SAVE, 60 percent of American children are exposed to violence, crime or abuse in their homes, schools or communities.

National Youth Violence Prevention Week is just one of the efforts coordinated by the Office of Safe and Health Neighborhoods, created by Mayor Fischer in 2013 and charged with helping create a city of safe neighborhoods, where everyone is supported, free of violence, and prepared for lifelong success.

The Mayor said he was “proud of the work the city has done to promote public safety and violence in Louisville.”  

As part of a comprehensive strategy that ranges from prevention, to enforcement to reentry, the city has reduced homicides by 30 percent.

Through the city’s violence interruption programs, 212 gunshot victims have been assisted since its creation. In January of 2019 alone, more than 200 hours were spent engaging patients in the University of Louisville Emergency Room, plus hundreds of hours in the Russell, Portland and Shawnee neighborhoods engaging individuals and families at risk of being impacted by gun violence.

The city’s Pivot to Peace program has reduced injury recidivism among 95 percent of its participants. The Community Response team has connected more than 300 individuals and families to trauma-related services within 48 hours of an incident taking place.  

The Mayor highlighted the success of the Reimage program, a collaboration between the Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods and KentuckianaWorks. More than 500 young people have enrolled in the program that helps to break the cycle of crime and violence by connecting young people to training, jobs and education.  

Reimage is actively recruiting young people right now for training that can quickly set them on a career path in key fields such as IT, manufacturing, construction and youth development. Those wanting to participate in the Reimage program can find more information here.  

“This will be the second consecutive year that Louisville has participated in this national effort. It’s an opportunity to lift up the powerful work happening locally led by our brilliant youth, and to intentionally engage them as architects to solutions for violence” said Rashaad Abdur-Rahman, Director of Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods.

Throughout the week, JCPS students will be:

  • Engaging in random acts of kindness;
  • Learning lessons centered around conflict resolution;
  • Holding compliment days where students will say nice things and give praise to peers;
  • Learning about three steps to violence prevention – look for warning signs, act immediately to prevent a violent incident, say something to a trusted adult;
  • Holding awareness walks to encourage students to resolve issues without violence. 

Participants are encouraged to use the social media hashtags #LouYVPW and #NYVPW.

Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) today opened the application period for prospective charter schools with the release of its Request for Charter School Applications (RFCSA).  Applications, for schools looking to open in the 2020/21 school year, are due at noon on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019.

The process includes a review by district personnel and community partners of each application submitted, applicant interviews and public comment.

This is the second cycle for charter school applications that JCPS has held.  The district opened its inaugural application cycle this spring – the only Kentucky school district to do so since passage of charter school legislation in 2017.

“Although the legislation made every district school board a charter school authorizer, JCPS is the only district to actually be proactive in putting together a process to be in compliance with the law,” said Cassie Blausey, JCPS executive administrator for school choice.

The Jefferson County RFCSA will include the Kentucky Charter School Application as well as additional questions specific to community needs in Jefferson County.  In addition, the RFCSA will include more information about the form, format and information required for the completion of the application.

Potential applicants are encouraged to contact Blausey at, or at (502) 485-3138, for more information.

The Jefferson County Public School (JCPS) District is reminding families that the application period for 2019-20 school year enrollment in JCPS ends December 19. All incoming kindergartners, students who are new to JCPS, students who have had a change of address, and any student who wants to be considered for a magnet school or program should register.

Families can register using the JCPS website or by visiting any JCPS school or the JCPS Parent Assistance Center at 4309 Bishop Lane. Parents or guardians should bring a photo ID and any one of the following: utility bill, lease, house contract, paycheck stub or government-issued check.

Parents who have questions regarding school registration may call 485-6250.

Families can learn more about the school choices available in JCPS here.

Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) and the 15th District Parent Teacher Association (PTA) invite Louisville community members to “Take What You Can Tote” at a clothing giveaway this week.

The annual Take What You Can Tote! event will be held on Saturday, Dec. 8, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Clothing Assistance Program (CAP) building, 319 S. 15th Street. Tables and racks of gently used clothing and accessories for men and women will be available free on a first-come, first-served basis. Items include men’s and women’s pants, shirts, shoes, belts, purses, hoodies, T-shirts, jackets, accessories and other assorted items.

While this particular clothing giveaway does not include children’s clothing or uniforms, CAP does provide new uniforms and gently used clothing to district families, by appointment, throughout the year. Families needing assistance should contact their child’s Family Resource and Youth Services Center (FRYSC) coordinator to make an appointment.

Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) is launching a new satellite office and inviting families to be a part of the process.

The new office will be located at the West Market Street entrance of The Academy @ Shawnee. On Monday, Dec. 3, at 6 p.m., the district is hosting a conversation at the location, offering JCPS families and community members the opportunity to learn more about the goals of the office and share their ideas on what services they would like to see there.

“A strong commitment to family engagement has been a priority for me as superintendent,” Dr. Marty Pollio said. “A second satellite office in JCPS is one more important way we can deliver much-needed resources and services to families—and we’re excited to hear directly from them about how we can best provide that support through the opening of this new location.”

The community conversation will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at 4018 W. Market Street, West Wing. The new office is expected to open early next year.

In January 2018, Superintendent Pollio cut the ribbon on the district’s first-ever satellite office, which is located inside the California Community Center on West St. Catherine Street. The office is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) today opened a survey to gather input from parents, students and community members as the district reviews and considers changes to its student assignment plan. The survey runs through Friday, Dec. 21.

“Community input is absolutely vital to this process,” JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio said. “The survey offers another avenue for families and stakeholders to weigh in on the issues and values that are important to them as the district reviews and updates how students are assigned to school. Our goal is clear: maintain our commitment to a diverse learning environment and meet the needs of the community; to do that effectively, we need to hear from as many voices as possible.”

Information from the survey, and from a series of community listening sessions held earlier in November, will help form a recommendation to the Jefferson County Board of Education in early 2019. Changes to the plan would begin being implemented in the 2020-21 school year.

The district reviews its student assignment plan every five to seven years and makes changes as necessary. Since the current student assignment plan was approved, multiple factors have changed, including population shifts and changing student demographics; passage of a racial equity policy; a districtwide review of JCPS facilities and magnet programs and policies; and the state audit.

The survey is available here. In addition, students, parents and community members will be selected at random to complete the survey, making sure to include respondents from specific groups and organizations to ensure an accurate report.