Head Start was the first project of Mountain Projects, Inc. funded by the Office of Economic Opportunity, an outreach project of President Lyndon Johnson’s "War on Poverty." In May 1965, Head Start served 60 children in a summer program with $28,896. A supplement grant of $11,220 was added at a later date. In 1994, a $100,000 grant from Smart Start helped with the purchase of two new centers in Jackson County.
Today, Mountain Projects, Inc. Head Start has a grant award of $1,724,527 from the Department of Health and Human Services to provide a full day/full school year program for 200 three and four year old children and their families. We serve 120 Head Start children (3-4 year olds) in Haywood County in 7 classrooms located in Canton, Clyde and Waynesville. We serve 80 Head Start Children (3-4 year olds) in Jackson County in 4 classrooms located in Sylva and Cullowhee.
In 2009, we received a grant award of $666,134 from the Department of Health and Human Services to provide Early Head Start, which serves birth to 3 years. We serve 24 Early Head Start children (0-3 year olds) in Haywood County in 3 classrooms located in Waynesville. We serve 16 Early Head Start children (0-3 years old) in 2 classrooms located in Cullowhee.
All classrooms are arranged in centers providing child education lessons in areas of language, cognition, literacy, science, math, computer (starting at age 2), fine/gross motor, and mental health (social/emotional) using an NC state approved curriculum. Children are also assessed three times a year using an ongoing assessment tool to track progress and areas of need.
Head Start/Early Head Start takes a very holistic approach in child services by providing dental exam/treatment, medical exams/treatment, vision exam/treatment, and mental health evaluation/treatment. We also provide Speech/Language, Physical, and Occupational therapy services.
Locally, Head Start has a $2.4 million operating budget and has 60 employees. It also purchases goods and services in our community so in addition to what it’s doing for the betterment of the underprivileged families and children, it also has an important economic impact here.
Under the sequestration measures currently being implemented by the federal government, local Head Start programs may be cut by as much as $120,000 in the upcoming budgetary process. This makes PlottFest ever more important and timely as a supplemental support system for our local children and their families.
Briefly stated, any investment you make in Head Start is irrefutably an investment in Haywood and Jackson Counties. The children served will be our future leaders in all walks of life.
Every year, incoming Head Start families complete an urgent needs questionnaire in which they enumerate family needs that are not covered by Head Start’s operating budget. Increasingly of late, these needs have to do with food, heat, and clothing. Indeed, Head Start teachers and classroom assistants have observed that children come in hungry and without any supplemental change of clothes. It is also felt that the major portion of daily nourishment a number of these children receive is the breakfast, lunch and snack they get while at Head Start. The donations received from PlottFest will provide the extra margin of support needed to meet the urgent needs of Head Start children and their families.
The attached progressive gift and sponsor benefits page describes the various opportunities for participation. At the top three levels, there will be 2:1 matching provisions to encourage participation at any of the lower levels.
Last year, PlottFest netted $9,000 for the two-county Head Start programs. This year with two days of events and activities, our goal is to net $20,000. To date, many of last year’s sponsors have increased their contributions in light of our success last year and in view of the fact that the 2013 PlottFest is now a two-day event.
Your donation to PlottFest helps strengthen Head Start in Haywood and Jackson counties by providing for the special urgent needs of the children and their families. Any and all donations will be officially acknowledged by Mountain Projects/Head Start along with an official gift receipt for tax purposes. Also, on the back of the gift table in your packet is a summary of special benefits [such as employee tickets, mentions in all press releases and on posters, logos and links on the PlottFest.org website, and banner space at the event itself] that accrue to donors at the various specified levels. Other special incentives for sponsorship may also be available.