Education

SCI hopes to put “brain bags” in the hands of every new mom

Studer Community Institute is among the finalists for a grant from IMPACT 100 for a project that will try to educate parents about the power of language to build babies’ brains.

The IMPACT Brain Bag is one of 15 projects vying for grants from the philanthropic group that pools $1,000 donations from members into grant awards of at least $100,000 apiece to make a big impact on the community.

Finalists will present their projects at the IMPACT 100 Pensacola Bay Area Annual Meeting on Sunday, Oct. 16, where final voting will take place. The grants come in five focus areas: Arts & Culture; Education; Environment, Recreation and Preservation; Family; and Health.

With 1,082 members this year, IMPACT 100 will award $108,200 each to 10 winning nonprofits.

The Institute’s project — IMPACT Brain Bags — will be given to the parents of every newborn in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties through the area’s three major hospitals — Baptist, Sacred Heart and West Florida hospitals.

The finalists for the 2016 IMPACT 100 Pensacola bay Area grants.

The finalists for the 2016 IMPACT 100 Pensacola bay Area grants.

The bags will include print and multimedia tools to help parents nurture their children’s language development by using the guidelines of the University of Chicago’s Thirty Million Words Initiative and other programs at work in the state.

Kindergarten readiness — often used as a guide for a child’s academic prospects — is deeply influenced by how much exposure to reading, language and words a child hears before age 3. It is an idea also related to the work that the Thirty Million Words Initiative does in early literacy.

The bags will contain a “baby book” with developmental milestones for parents to look at at 12, 18, 24 months, etc., a picture book to read to their children, a lullaby CD, a letter from the superintendent of schools, small toys and other educational information.

The bags are just the first step of the project, which will include a curriculum and plans for a social worker to do home visits to families with newborns in the neighborhoods surrounding low-graded elementary schools.

It also includes a research provision with University of West Florida Sam Mathews to track the impact that the home visits have on the children and families who receive them.

Since the inception in 2004 of IMPACT 100 Pensacola Bay Area, the organization has awarded 67 grants to 56 different nonprofit agencies totaling $7.236 million. This year’s IMPACT awards will bring the total awarded in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties to 77 grants totaling $8.318 million.