Grants and Contracts Affirm SJU’s Commitment to Early Childhood Education

Please Touch Museum, PNC Bank and the United Way lend support

Thursday, January 2, 2014

PHILADELPHIA (December 18, 2013) — Saint Joseph’s University’s Early Childhood Development and Education Laboratory (ECDEL) was recently awarded substantial contracts to continue research and training in early childhood education and to embark on a new endeavor with the Philadelphia Please Touch Museum.

Armed with $30K over the next three years, the ECDEL will evaluate an interactive mobile communications application (Start School Smart) and website for the Please Touch Museum that will serve as tools to support families through the kindergarten transition years.

The Please Touch Museum hopes the application and website will offer families with young children a user-friendly interface to track the development of school readiness skills and access resources available in the region and online.

“Our role will be to determine the impact and effectiveness of the application at increasing parent and caregiver’s knowledge about transition steps,” explains Lauren Galvano, assistant director of the ECDEL.

A $122K contract from the United Way’s Success by 6 Program, a longtime partner of SJU, will further the ECDEL’s work to improve the level of education provided at childcare centers throughout the region by training early childhood educators for the fifth consecutive year.

“SJU's role is to provide pre- and post- assessments to the participating childcare centers in this program,” says Lauren Galvano,. “We assess classrooms and then provide feedback to the director and teachers on their strengths and areas of potential growth to help them reach higher levels of quality.”

The United Way has also continued to lend its support to the Institute for Family Professionals (IFP), which through Saint Joseph’s University, provides courses that help prepapre early childhood educators and professionals to recognize and help children deal with trauma.

SJU has provided these courses for the last three years, and with United Way’s support of nearly $60K, will continue to do so.

“The courses supported through SJU have helped numerous childcare teachers, directors and technical assistance providers gain a better understanding of how trauma impacts not only the families they work with, but also themselves,” says Galvano. “They are no longer asking what is wrong with a child but rather what has happened to a child.”

Lastly, PNC Bank’s Grow Up Great Program has provided a $30K contract to the ECDEL for the launch of a new three-credit course focusing solely on infant and toddler development and early care. Teachers will participate in class at SJU and work with a technical consultant from the Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children (DVAEYC) in their own infant/toddler classrooms. “The activities of the ECDEL continue to advance the status of Saint Joseph's University as a premier Jesuit institution that is deeply committed to early childhood development and education,” says John Vacca, Ph.D., associate dean for education. “The partnerships that have been created with local child care centers and related agencies have provided multiple opportunities to support best practices in serving infants, toddlers and their families in the Delaware Valley.”

Media Contact

Kelly Welsh, Senior Director of Marketing and Communications/College of Arts and Sciences, 610-660-1385,


As Philadelphia's Jesuit, Catholic University, founded by the Society of Jesus in 1851, Saint Joseph's University provides a rigorous, student-centered education rooted in the liberal arts. SJU ranks as a top university in the Northeast, with a Phi Beta Kappa chapter in the College of Arts and Sciences and AACSB accreditation of the  Erivan K. Haub School of Business. The University is also deeply committed to the Jesuit tradition of scholarship and service, earning a place on the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll and the community engagement classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. With courses offered on campus and online, SJU prepares its more than 8,000 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students to lead lives of personal excellence, professional success and engaged citizenship.


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