Winchester Public Schools is pleased to announce the addition of a ninth VPI (Virginia Preschool Initiative) Class for the 2020-2021 school year. The VPI program has proved to be a gamechanger for 144 students each year for the past five years. Providing the local match financial support to this additional class of 18 students is the John & Janice Wyatt Foundation, or the J2W Foundation. J2W is a private, entrepreneurial family grantmaking foundation, based in Fairfax County, with local ties to Winchester. The foundation’s mission is to improve equity in the education system by leveling the playing field for disadvantaged youth and is led by Matthew Peterson, formerly the Executive Director of Blue Ridge Habitat for Humanity. Matt joined the foundation as its first executive director in December 2019.
Dr. Jason Van Heukelum, Superintendent of Schools stated, "In these trying times, when we are considering massive cuts to budgets and programs, we are grateful to our foundation partners who continue to step up and support public schools. The J2W Foundation is a new partner with the Winchester Public Schools and we are excited about their commitment to early childhood education. The Winchester Public Schools has been a leader in the state for early childhood over the past five years and this commitment is a by-product of the good work of our preschool team.”
Over the last few months, the foundation has been landscaping its geographic service area to refine its strategies for providing impactful, data-driven interventions. J2W will be focusing its resources on supporting and piloting early childhood education and out of-school time programs to reduce achievement gaps and improve readiness. Ultimately, the foundation wants to support successful programs that positively impact children long-term and help support opportunities for these kids to grow into productive, engaged citizens. “Our belief is that if we can invest in children as early as possible, their future opportunities for learning and evolving into successful adults are so much greater. Through this additional classroom, year over year we can increase children’s access to quality pre-k, which - down the road - we are certain will result in improved academic performance, higher graduation rates, and ultimately will position these kids to be college and/or career ready,” said Peterson.
Recently, J2W had to pivot its strategies to support immediate COVID-related challenges, including supporting WPS’ VPI program with take-home educational materials; developing a Chromebook pilot and tutoring cadre program in its other program site in Dorchester County, MD; funding several non-profits with unrestricted operating revenue recovery funds; and contracting Yount, Hyde and Barbour to offer free support services to several non-profits looking to submit applications through the CARES Act.
J2W is also actively participating on Winchester Public Schools “Internet for All” task force to explore ways to tackle the Internet tech divide for low-income families sometimes called “the homework gap.” Over the next few months, the foundation’s goals are to continue to work with current partners, build new relationships, explore a robust summer program, and transition disaster response work to longer-term recovery and sustainment. To learn more, please visit the the John & Janice Wyatt Foundation website.
For additional information, contact: Angie Cain, Early Childhood Coordinator 540-667-4253, ext. 12121