A newcomer to banking in metro Atlanta is putting cash into local philanthropy with a $1.2 million pledge to improve early childhood education.
The PNC Foundation is granting the money to four institutions that will work to improve preschool for underprivileged children, with a focus on education in science and the arts.
The Sheltering Arms Early Education and Family Centers will share $1 million over two years with the Young Audiences program at the Woodruff Arts Center and with the Fernbank Museum of Natural History. The money will fund educational experiences for 500 children and their families at Sheltering Arms, said James E. Rohr, chairman and chief executive officer of PNC Financial Services Group.
The remaining $200,000 will help the Georgia Family Connections Partnership improve a state rating system for early education and care facilities.
“This is an example of a public-private partnership that is so needed in our state,” said Bobby Cagle, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, which launched a preschool rating system this year.
Pittsburgh-based PNC moved into metro Atlanta after announcing last year its plans to acquire the U.S. operations of the Royal Bank of Canada and metro Atlanta branches of Michigan-based Flagstar Bank.
Promotional materials say the PNC “Grow up Great” initiative is a $350 million program with $55 million in grants to Head Start and other early childhood education organizations. Rohr said it was inspired by research showing that the first five years in a child’s life are crucial for long-term achievement.
During Friday’s announcement at the Woodruff, Rohr lamented an erosion of educational opportunity.
America has held promise as a place where anyone could pursue a dream of upward mobility through education, Rohr said. “Quite frankly, I think that’s changing a little bit, and I think we should all be alarmed.”