The Daniel Foundation made a grant of $10,000 to the Link of Cullman County for their Volunteers in Public Schools program (VIPS). VIPS runs a kindergarten boot camp in the summer for incoming kindergartners in Cullman and also does in school tutoring. The funds were awarded for educational materials, books to build home libraries for the students and other supplies. Children that have not had any preschool but will be starting kindergarten attend the program for the two weeks before school starts. They learn letters and numbers and basic skills such as how to hold and use scissors and pencils, as well as social skills and getting along with other children. Teachers report that the camp saves them 6 weeks of time in getting the kids up to speed on these skills. The pre and post testing that is done shows teachers exactly where a student is performing in academic areas. Having this information on the first day of school along with students having already gotten over the fear of leaving home each day , how to line up and other classroom skills saves a great deal of time and allows the teacher to start teaching on day one. The program is run by volunteers, and is a very cost effective way to try and bridge the gap so that these children start school ready to learn.
The Link of Cullman County seeks to end the cycle of poverty for those in the Cullman community. They do this by offering a wide variety of services and programs that address issues such as children’s literacy, character building, financial literacy for high school students, GED classes, career coaching, employment search assistance and other biblically based programs. Their VIPS kindergarten readiness program and tutoring program are currently serving 450 children.