(JACKSON, Miss.) – The Mississippi Learning Institute (MLI) at Jackson State University has begun a project to create a high-quality, seamless education system in the Jackson, Miss., community that spans from a child’s educational experience from prenatal to college.
The project is funded by a $700,000 grant from the Battle Creek, Mich.–based W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The foundation supports children, families and communities in their efforts to create conditions that propel vulnerable children to success.
“The W.K. Kellogg Foundation is pleased to partner with the Mississippi Learning Institute,” said William Buster, foundation program officer. “Our commitment to improving the lives of Mississippi’s children through improving education outcomes and engaging parents is in alignment with the purpose of the project and the institute’s mission.”
Over the two-year project, MLI will develop customized curricula and activities that support parents’ roles in promoting school readiness and the healthy development of children. The project will focus on establishing “parents as teachers” programs and joint professional development and training opportunities for local child care instructors and Jackson Public Schools early childhood teachers. Additionally, MLI will engage local businesses and community partners to become active in the early childhood education arena.
“We have an ambitious goal to initiate deliberate and coordinate efforts among parents, child care providers and the public school system, all of whom recognize major responsibility in closing the preparation gap that exists for Jackson’s most vulnerable population — children ages 0 to 8,” said Dr. Nikisha G. Ware, executive director of the Mississippi Learning Institute. “This work is the missing link to current early childhood initiatives that attempt to address school readiness deficiencies.”
Dr. Felix A. Okojie, vice president of research and federal relations at Jackson State University agrees. “This grant will expand MLI’s existing work as the state’s only nationally-recognized public school-university partnership,” said Okojie.
About the Mississippi Learning Institute
MLI, located on the Jackson State University campus, has demonstrated impressive results in improving the performance of public school children on standardized tests such as the Mississippi Curriculum Test (MCT). It accomplished this by creating innovative pedagogies and instructional methods which improved the reading and learning outcomes of minority children from low income families. The model—The MLI Way—is an important contribution to the national challenge of preparing children from underserved populations who depend on the public school system to prepare them in a global, technologically sophisticated society.
About Jackson State University: Challenging Minds, Changing Lives
Jackson State University, founded in 1877, is a historically black, high research activity university located in Jackson, the capital city of the state of Mississippi. Jackson State’s nurturing academic environment challenges individuals to change lives through teaching, research and service. Officially designated as Mississippi’s Urban University, Jackson State continues to enhance the state, nation and world through comprehensive economic development, health-care, technological and educational initiatives. The only public university in the Jackson metropolitan area, Jackson State is located near downtown, with three satellite campuses throughout the city. For more information, visit www.jsums.edu.