Erie Arts & Culture Receives $15,000 Grant from PNC Foundation for Pre-K Children in Crawford, Mercer, Warren Counties

Thursday Jul 25th, 2019

PNC Grow Up Great

Erie Arts & Culture has received a $15,000 grant from the PNC Foundation for Arts Smart Kids, which will provide professional arts instruction to about 400 pre-K children in Crawford, Mercer and Warren counties.

Through Arts Smart Kids, professional teaching artists in residence will provide 10-20 hours of instruction to children, ages 3 to 5, participating in the following programs: United Way of Mercer County Success by 6, Child Development Centers' East End Head Start in Meadville and the Early Childhood Learning Center at Don Mills Achievement Center in Warren.

This is a special year for PNC Grow Up Great®, a bilingual initiative to prepare children, particularly underserved children, from birth to age five for success in school and life. PNC’s flagship philanthropic program is celebrating 15 years. 

“For 15 years, the PNC Grow Up Great program has supported high-quality pre-K education to help children develop a life-long love of learning,” said Vickie Lampe, Client and Community Relations Director, PNC Bank. “Arts instruction is an important part of that process because young children learn through play.”

The theory behind Arts Smart Kids - that learning through the arts can improve school readiness in students from low-income families - is supported by many studies. Research shows that young children thrive when their studies include the arts.

During residencies, artists work collaboratively with host site staff to align their art with learning objectives and lead participants through a creative process. This can be done through visual, performing, language or digital arts.  

Due to the timing of the grant, residencies with the United Way of Mercer County Success by 6 summer program are currently underway with teaching artists Tasana Camara (African drumming and song), Shari Mastalski (dance and movement), and Kathe Umlauf (visual arts). The six-week Success by 6 program is for children who are eligible for kindergarten in the fall and have been identified by their home district as at-risk for learning or behavioral problems. More than 250 students from 14 Mercer County schools are enrolled in the 2019 program.

Child Development Centers’ East End Head Start and Don Mills Achievement Center will host 20-day residencies in the fall.

“It is our belief at Child Development Centers that the arts play an important role in not just education but in our entire culture,” said Luke Braughler, director of Child Development Centers in Crawford County. “I am thrilled that the children at East End Head Start will have this experience at such an early age.”

The PNC Foundation, which receives its principal funding from The PNC Financial Services Group (, actively supports organizations that provide services for the benefit of communities in which it has a significant presence. The foundation focuses its philanthropic mission on early childhood education and community and economic development, which includes the arts and culture. Through Grow Up Great, its signature cause that began in 2004, PNC has created a bilingual $350 million, multi-year initiative to help prepare children from birth to age 5 for success in school and life. For more information, visit

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