- Associated Press - Friday, April 15, 2016

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The YWCA of Richmond and the Children’s Museum of Richmond are working together to create a mixed-income preschool option called The Sprout School.

The Sprout School pilot program is set to begin in September, according to media outlets

The purpose of the school is to give area children the opportunity to be ready for kindergarten regardless of their family’s ability to pay for preschool, said YWCA chief executive officer Linda S. Tissiere. Success in school depends on a “strong educational foundation,” she said, which is something not all children have access to.

“Investing in our children is going to reap a huge return to all sectors of our society,” Tissiere said.

The school will use the Italian, Reggio Emilia-inspired curriculum that encourages discovery, creativity and community. The philosophy is geared at teaching students by allowing them to use their curiosity to explore.

According to Kathleen Eastman, director of child and family development at the YWCA, the idea is to let children learn using their own imaginations though play and practice.

The Sprout School will accept 130 children with about two-thirds expected to attend for free or on partial scholarships.

The program will be offered at the YWCA’s downtown Richmond location, and at the Children’s Museum’s central location. Construction of two new classrooms at the museum will begin in June.

The cost to launch the program and operate it for the first year is estimated to be $495,000. That includes construction, teacher training and other associated costs. The money will be raised through donations and partnerships.

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