BELZONI – Hue Townsend, CEO and President of Guaranty Bank & Trust Company, today announced that the Belzoni-based bank has donated $200,000 to participate in the Mississippi First Pre-K initiative. Townsend said the funds would be divided equally to four different Pre-K institutions in Mississippi.
According to documents provided by the program, the costs for providing pre-Kindergarten services to four-year-old children is $4,300 per child enrolled in full-day programs. The State of Mississippi provides funding for half of this cost but requires that the other half be “provided by local matching funds including tax dollars, federal dollars, parent tuition, philanthropic contributions or in-kind donations of facilities, equipment and services.”
“When helping young children gain important skills prior to kindergarten, it becomes easier for them to reach their potential,” Townsend explained. “When they lack pre-school education, problems tend to multiply as a result, including discipline issues, failing grades, and failure to finish high school. It is our goal to invest in Mississippi families to help children properly prepare for school.”
In 2013, the state passed the Early Learning Collaborative Act, establishing a state-funded pre-K program for both private and parochial schools as well as private childcare centers and Head Start centers, allowing each to compete for state funds in their specific community. In its first implementation, 11 collaboratives were funded, marking the first time the state of Mississippi had ever invested in pre-K. State regulations are set to which collaboratives must adhere, as well as requirements to meet nationally recognized quality standards.
Clifton Williams, Guaranty Bank Community Development Officer, presented the checks to representatives of Cleveland, Indianola and Greenwood collaboratives while Lee Murphy, SVP of Special Projects, presented a check to the Grenada collaborative.
“We firmly believe that an investment in young minds is an investment in the future of the communities we serve,” Townsend said. “If we can help propel young children into their formal education with a solid foundation and learning skills, I believe we will find that the years ahead are producing more complete and talented students. Any way you look at it, that’s a very positive thing for our region, state and nation.”
SVP – Marketing
210 N. Hayden Street
Belzoni, MS 39028