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Early Connections: ERIE’s Support Makes Direct Impact on Kids’ Futures

Elaine knew she couldn’t afford to send her twins to the same preschool their older sibling had attended and the family loved.

“We were looking at a bill of at least $4,000 a year for both of them,” she said. “There was just no way.”

Then Elaine, whose husband was deployed to Qatar at the time, found out about Eries Future Fund Pre-K scholarships for income-eligible Erie County, Pennsylvania, families.

Erie Insurance is the largest funder of the program, with a donation of about $220,000.

So Elaine applied for the scholarships. She felt a weight lift from her shoulders the day she found out her family qualified. The scholarships meant she could send Micah and Jacob to any certified preschool in the region — including the familys top choice.

“Preschool was really important to give the twins a good base when they go to kindergarten next year,” Elaine said.

Early Education Investments Mean Big Payoff Later

In fact, preschool is proven to make significant short- and long-term impacts on a childs education and future. Studies by Nobel laureate James Heckman for instance, shows that kids who have attended preschool are less likely to need special education services and more likely to graduate on time.

Long-term benefits, meanwhile, are multi-generational. As adults, kids who participated in a quality preschool program showed better employment, health, cognitive and socio-emotional skills, and even had more stable marriages than their peers.

“Ninety-five percent of child brain development occurs before the age of 5, so when we can reach young learners at that age it makes such a difference in their future,” said Kimberly Beers, the Scholarship Director for Eries Future Fund and the vice president for community outreach at Early Connections, which acts as Eries Future Fund administrator.

Eries Future Fund was formed in 2011, an outgrowth of the Erie Community Foundations Early Childhood Advisory Panel and in partnership with United Way of Erie County, Success By 6, members of the Early Learning Investment Commission, and Erie Together.

ERIE has been a partner since the beginning.

The donation to Eries Future Fund is worthwhile because of the proven returns on preschool investment, said Ann Scott, ERIEs community outreach coordinator.

“The impact early childhood education has on kidslives and our community is incredible,” she said.

State Tax Credits Make Significant Giving Possible

ERIE makes its donations to Eries Future Fund through Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program. The state established the EITC in 2001 as a way for businesses to earn tax credits by donating to an educational improvement organization. For-profit companies that commit to a two-year donation through EITC are eligible for a 90% tax credit.

“Thats huge, of course,” Scott said. “So we donate the maximum amount we can.”

ERIEs commitment to donating to Eries Future Fund has made a difference in the lives of hundreds of Erie families.

“Because of Erie Insurance, weve served at least 1,400 preschool scholars in Erie County since 2012,” Beers said.

Did You Know?

For-profit companies of any size throughout Pennsylvania are eligible to take part in the Educational Improvement Tax Credit program. Learn more about the program and apply for the upcoming round of funds.

Whether its community service, customer service or claims service, doing the right thing is what were all about. Learn more about our culture of service or see what weve been up to with the ERIE Giving Network. See more stories by searching #ERIEforgood wherever you share on social media.

ERIE® insurance products and services are provided by one or more of the following insurers: Erie Insurance Exchange, Erie Insurance Company, Erie Insurance Property & Casualty Company, Flagship City Insurance Company and Erie Family Life Insurance Company (home offices: Erie, Pennsylvania) or Erie Insurance Company of New York (home office: Rochester, New York).  The companies within the Erie Insurance Group are not licensed to operate in all states. Refer to the company licensure and states of operation information.

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