New First5 Fund Supports Our Youngest Residents

Did you know that 90% of brain development happens in the first five years of life? This is the most important time for children in determining future success. It’s one of many reasons this is an issue to wrap around as a community.


Providing early learning, a high-quality, interactive daycare experience, to infants and toddlers helps prepare them for school and life. It allows parents to focus on their own goals and work and to create financial stability for their families. Businesses benefit from having a stable workforce and also from a future generation of educated, work-ready employees.


An investment in the youngest residents becomes a windfall for the whole community.


The Rush County Community Foundation’s (RCCF) grantmaking has always strived to meet the most urgent needs of Rush County while serving the greatest number of residents. Usually, we look to the organizations doing the work in the community to tell us what they need.


In 2018, with unrestricted dollars available, RCCF took a new approach. A committee studied the greatest issues facing our community to determine a course of action that would make the most meaningful impact.


All signs pointed to early learning.


RCCF made its first proactive grant to establish First5 Rush County’s Early Learning Coalition. We understood the importance but also knew we needed expert advice. We contracted with Huffer Childcare Center in Muncie. They hired Jeri McCorkle, who has 20+ years of experience in education, to lead First5 and to help guide her work.


Jeri began by collecting data and input from the Rush County community. Those findings revealed that her focus should include increasing the quality and capacity of childcare in the county. Also understanding that knowledge is power, she began flooding the community with the “read, sing, talk, play, model” message in the form of posters and presentations.


First5 began transitioning away from Huffer in 2019 to become an independent program. The Children’s Bureau of Indiana has become a valued partner as Jeri continues First5’s mission of providing information and resources for health & wellness, parenting engagement & family fun and offering parenting support. They also helped establish Rush County’s first diaper pantry, From the Bottom Up, which provides those in need with packs including diapers, wipes, a children’s book and resources for adults. Diapers are available during operating hours at Rush County food pantries and clothing closets.


The RCCF board of directors decided that First5 would become a program under the Foundation beginning in 2021. Shortly after, the First5 Fund was established to provide financial support.


If you’d like to create a community that nurtures the healthy development of babies and toddlers, you can make a donation to the First5 Fund online or by mailing a check to: RCCF, 117 N. Main Street, Rushville, IN 46173. Your gift to support a brighter future for our community’s youngest residents is greatly appreciated!


Like this? Share it:

Comments are closed for this post.