Candelen Receives $744,000 Multi-Year Parsons Grant

January 16, 2020  |  Published by

PHOENIX (January 16, 2020) – Candelen has been awarded a $744,000 multi-year grant from The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation to deliver its Play & Learn series across Maricopa County. The program provides training and support for non-licensed childcare providers – like neighborhood babysitters and family members – where 60 percent of children in Arizona spend their early and most formative years. Children in these settings often arrive at kindergarten less prepared and with a lower ability to be successful than children who attend traditional preschool programs.

“It’s an unfortunate reality that children living in poverty are less likely to receive the early learning experiences needed to prepare them for success in the school system,” said businesswoman Renee Parsons. “The work of Candelen is teaching families how to bring education into the home through everyday interactions.”

Candelen’s Play & Learn series aims to level the playing field by building confidence among parents and caregivers by showing them they already have what it takes to support their child’s development and school readiness. The program focuses on using daily activities and household items to promote critical learning and brain building opportunities.

“Education is a powerful tool in the fight against poverty,” said businessman Bob Parsons. “Candelen has created a unique way to deliver important early education to children in low-income communities.”

Play & Learn consists of 10 adult-child interactive sessions, led by professional educators, that create a space where families can learn together. Core topics of focus for each class include language and literacy, brain development, yoga, child development, nutrition, and discipline practices. The sessions will be held in a classroom environment and anyone who cares for young children – be it parents, family members, friends or neighbors – are welcome to attend. The grant from The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation will allow Candelen to bring Play & Learn programming to 200 adults and 400 children throughout Maricopa County.

“Early education is critically important to a child’s development and long-term success, yet too many children in Arizona enter kindergarten without baseline skillsets simply because their families lack access to adequate resources,” said Nicole Newhouse, Candelen CEO. “The support from The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation will allow us to expand our program and close the learning gap for economically disadvantaged children by increasing home education during early childhood.”

Following the Play & Learn series, some participants will have an opportunity to continue on to participate in the Language & Literacy Technical Assistance Project (LLTAP). According to research on early literacy, the foundations for successful reading and writing are built early in life and interventions in school may be too late to fully reduce the learning disparities. The LLTAP program includes two major components: five in-home coaching sessions which teach families how to support young children’s language and literacy development and to provide materials, equipment and supplies to build home libraries and reading corners.


About Candelen

Candelen was founded in 1976 as a private, nonprofit corporation dedicated to shaping the future of Arizona by enhancing the quality of care for children. Every program at Candelen meets a unique set of needs within the childcare and early education field. The foundation of brain development starts before birth and continues through adulthood. However, in the first few years of life, more than 1 million new neural connections are formed per second. Vision, hearing, language and higher cognitive function are at the peak of development from birth to five years old.

Candelen works passionately to ensure that young children have the foundation they need to lead happy, successful, productive lives. We are fueled by our core values of the relentless pursuit of challenge, excellence and humility to provide support, training, education, and professional development to the entire spectrum of those that care for and educate young children: parents, family, friends, neighbors, child care providers (both regulated and unregulated), early childhood educators, administrators, and leaders.


About The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation

The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation offers support to nonprofit organizations successfully working to empower, educate, nurture and nourish people during what is often the darkest time of their lives. Founded in 2012 by philanthropists and business leaders Bob and Renee Parsons to provide hope and life-changing assistance to the country’s most vulnerable populations, The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation offers critical funding at critical times to those in need. The Foundation’s giving is driven by the core belief that all people – regardless of race, religion, roots, economic status, sexual orientation or gender identity – deserve access to quality healthcare, education and a safe place to call home.

Madeleine Lovett

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