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Academy Struggles to Meet Growing Demand from Working and Military Families for Preschool Tuition Assistance

August 9, 2017 03:46 PM
As the cost of providing high quality early care and education rises, Hopkins House struggles to meet the growing need among low-resourced working and military families for preschool tuition assistance.

For the 12-month school year ended this past June 30, Hopkins House provided $243,832 in scholarships to 60 "Young Scholars" from low-resourced working and military families enrolled in the organization’s preschool academy.  These 60 young scholars comprised a third of the total academy enrollment.
The rising cost of personnel, classroom supplies, food, and other basic operations is pushing preschool tuitions higher every year.  Published reports indicate that the cost of quality child care in some states now exceeds the tuition at the community college.
"Hopkins House is committed to ensuring that all children, regardless of their family’s income, is able to attend our preschool academy," said Hopkins House president J. Glenn Hopkins.  "Our preschool scholarship fund makes this commitment possible and we are blessed by our donors who share in this commitment through their generous support to the fund."
Last school year, donors contributed $186,155 to the Hopkins House Preschool Scholarship Fund.  But, the organization had to dip into its already strained General Fund to fill the remaining $57,677 funding gap.
"Redirecting money from the General Fund to the Preschool Scholarship Fund is not something we like doing," explained Hopkins.  "But, it was necessary."
"Dipping into the General Fund caused us to put off some capital improvement projects, program enhancements, and maintenance projects. As our overall operating costs continue to rise, and these deferred projects become more urgent, we will have increasingly limited opportunities in the future to support tuition assistance grants in excess of available funds. This may have profound effect on access to our preschool academy by from families with limited means, and could certainly alter the makeup of our preschool student body."
The organization’s Scholarships & Recognitions Committee, which oversees the scholarship program on behalf of the trustees, is trying to address this challenge by planning fundraisers to generate additional donor contributions. 
The committee is also trying to match its scholarship grants with available funds. This can be difficult since the bulk of contributions are received in the middle of the school year (i.e. November and December) while scholarship assistance is needed throughout the school year.
"It’s really hard to turn down a scholarship application from a family with compelling financial need," said committee chair Jacqueline Walker. "But, it’s just not prudent for the organization to continue granting scholarships beyond our financial means."