Introducing Learning Starts Early
The origins of Learning Starts Early can be traced back to early 2013 when a committee was formed by the Rev. Benjamin Maas, Rector, and parishioners of St. James’ Episcopal Church, Warrenton, to investigate the needs of the community and the resources of the parish to determine how the church could begin an outreach program to meet the perceived needs. The committee discovered that one in five children in Fauquier County could not meet basic kindergarten readiness standards.
In 2016, as the committee was expanding its work in preschool education, it decided to change its name from “Ready for Kindergarten and Beyond,” to “Learning Starts Early” (LSE). LSE created its signature fundraising event, a pre-Thanksgiving race through Warrenton known as the Gobble, Gobble, Run or Wobble 5K. Generous private donations along with the successful race allowed LSE to establish a charitable fund with the Northern Piedmont Community Foundation in Warrenton. Funds raised were used to purchase a
Smart Board for Warrenton Head Start and a virtual translation system for the Virginia Preschool Initiative program of Fauquier County Public Schools to facilitate parent education programs. LSE has also provided educational materials for Caring for Angels, a preschool program for at-risk children in Bealeton, supported by Community Touch, Inc.
In the spring of 2019, Learning Starts Early, Inc., became a full-fledged nonprofit corporation with 501(c)(3) status, increasing its capacity to reach a broader audience in the county and to touch more children’s lives. Our main focus continues to be providing tuition assistance for eligible prekindergarten children to attend high quality private preschools throughout Fauquier County. Our tax-exempt status allows LSE to apply for grants from other local or regional charitable foundations, such as Northern Piedmont Community Foundation and the PATH Foundation.
Prior to the COVID19 pandemic, approximately 15 LSE volunteers read weekly to children at Head Start centers throughout Fauquier County. Since 2016, our Reading Buddies program has provided readers for classrooms at Central, Mary Walter Elementary School, and H. M. Pearson Elementary School. LSE has provided supplies for the county’s Virginia Preschool Initiative Program (VPI) and books for the Books on the Bus (BOB) program, now called Fauquier FRESH Reads.
LSE works with Fauquier County Public Schools and the Fauquier County Preschool Coalition to ensure that all eligible children receive a high-quality preschool education. Our goal is to expand the tuition assistance program in order to allow more children access to preschool education throughout Fauquier County.