Grow Up Great®: PNC Foundation and Educational First Steps Show Appreciation to Early Educators Across North Texas

Early Childhood Education has faced insurmountable odds for years throughout the United States. From a lack of funding and resources to a teacher shortage crisis that has left its impact on families, small business owners, and school districts across the country. In response to the needs of the community,  PNC Foundation and their Grow Up Great® program strive to help prepare children from birth to age five for success in school and life by supporting programs, resources, and experiences that plant the seeds for a lifetime of opportunities. Since 2017, PNC Bank and Foundation have partnered with local nonprofit organization, Educational First Steps to achieve just that.

Educational First Steps (EFS) creates and supports high-quality early learning environments that ignite the minds of children from birth to age five. They do this by transforming existing childcare centers into nationally accredited preschools in a period of 36 months by providing mentoring, classroom resources, business support services, and professional development to the educators and leaders in the centers they work with.

Throughout its partnership with EFS, PNC Bank has been a generous donor and served countless volunteer hours, directly impacting childcare centers and early educators across North Texas. In celebration of their longstanding partnership, Educational First Steps recognized PNC Bank with their Early Childhood Champion award at their gala “An Evening with The Great Nowitzki” which took place at The Ritz-Carlton Dallas this past February. In the Spring, PNC served as the Title Sponsor for the organization’s annual Early Childhood Educators Conference, providing a one-of-a-kind professional development and networking experience to the childcare providers that work with EFS.

Most recently, PNC Foundation gifted 20 educators within the EFS network with appreciation care packages through their Grow Up Great® program. These packages included a Lakeshore Learning gift card and self-care materials for the teachers. Many of the recipients were thrilled to use the gift card to fill their classrooms with much-needed learning materials, others shed a few joyful tears for having been acknowledged for their hard work.

Ileana Umana, one of the recipients and an educator at Lighthouse Learning Center based in Dallas, shared, “Thank you to PNC Bank for this wonderful gift. I really do appreciate it, and it’s just an honor to be recognized, so thank you. I really do appreciate it!”

When asked to speak on the partnership, Educational First Steps Chief Strategy & Impact Officer, Dominique McCain, said, “Our early childhood educators remain ‘essential’ to both our economy and the foundation of children’s educational trajectories. As a valued partner, PNC makes it possible for us to show our appreciation in big and small ways, and we are grateful to them for their support.” – Dominique McCain

To learn more about PNC’s Grow Up Great® program and its impact, you can visit their website HERE. If you would like to support Educational First Steps and its programming, you can learn more at