St. Helena Preschool For All is a non-profit dedicated to providing scholarships for three and four-year old children to experience preschool and succeed.
To create awareness, provide education, and access to early childhood education and parent education programs in St. Helena for the underserved families in the community.
Community: We strive to become a foundation of access to early childhood education.
Responsibility: We are committed to raising awareness of the importance of early childhood education programs.
Respect: We treat all people with respect and dignity.
Educate: We teach families about the importance of early involvement and guidance in their child's life.
Empower: We encourage parents to be their children's first and most valuable teacher in life.
As we embark on our 10th anniversary of the St. Helena Preschool for All, it was naturally a time to reflect on how we came together as a community to provide preschool opportunities for our families. St. Helena Preschool for All was a grassroots organization, with members of our community advocating for a cause to spur change.
In 2010, there was an outcry from concerned parents due to the closure of the St. Helena Head Start preschool, located at Crane Park. There was no longer an affordable preschool option for our families, and our families all knew how important preschool experience was for their children. Immediately, UpValley Family Center, St Helena Cooperative Nursery School, and the St. Helena Unified School District collaborated and worked out a short-term plan to help families with preschool expenses. In 2009 the St Helena Cooperative Nursery School conceptualized, piloted, and funded the program to welcome families and show how beneficial and workable this model would be, they continued to fund and welcome children until SHPFA became established financially. With the help of community donations and the UpValley Family Center, we provided funding for the first children in our program; 11 scholarships in 2010/2011 and 12 scholarships in 2011/2012.
During this time, parents in the community continued to be concerned and wanted to create a sustainable program to assist in providing preschool scholarships. The meetings at this time were informal and mostly used for gathering information. With several options on the table, the parents along with district leadership soon began discussing the need to form an organization with its mission: to provide preschool scholarships, parent education, and leadership opportunities for the families involved.
In January 2012, our first formal meeting took place with thirty parents in attendance. At this meeting, we all agreed on the name – St. Helena Preschool For All - and elected Jaime Rubio a parent, as President and Rodolfo Morales a parent, as Vice President. We outlined the committees, discussed hiring a Director, and planned on doing outreach and fundraising. Because there were so many things to consider and we recognized the need to organize quickly, we began meeting as a group every month.
As the months went by, we became more organized. Rosalina Cazares and Josefina Hurtado were our first Directors, whom each were instrumental during their tenure. We began student outreach, fundraising, and attending events so the community could get to know more about our organization. We began our preschool partnership with the St. Helena Cooperative Nursery School, PUC Discoveryland (Little Back Packs Preschool), WeeCare Child Care, and Sun & Stars Montessori. What was amazing about the beginning stages and growth of the St. Helena Preschool for All, was the unbelievable support that we received from community organizations. We are grateful to the following organizations that have assisted us in so many ways: St. Helena Unified School District, UpValley Family Center, Napa Learns, Napa County Office of Education, and the Bainum FamilyFoundation who awarded us our first major grant.
In December 2013 we received our non-profit status and hired a former parent and board director of the program Julio Olguin as the Executive Director, whose ability to connect with our families has been amazing. He continues to be our director. Looking back now, it seems that once we received this non-profit status our organization took off and became a more stable resource for families in our community. One of the biggest changes we made was to begin to offer our scholarships to 3-year-old children as well. The impact it has had on students is tremendous. By providing two years of preschool children are better prepared and ready to learn once entering Kindergarten. Since 2013 we have increased our enrollment every year with the highest mark in 2019 with 27 students.
Our organization has been blessed with so many individuals, businesses, and organizations that have supported our mission over the years and have allowed our program to have a deeper positive impact on our community. In 2016 we were fortunate to have the St. Helena Rotary Club take a common interest in providing this critical opportunity to children and families. They have organized community fundraisers each year since then with each one drawing more and more awareness and funding for our program. We also have received continued support from the St. Helena Unified School District, Napa ValleyCommunity Foundation, the former Mayor of St. Helena Alan Galbraith, the City of St. Helena, and the Bainum Family Foundation.
Without a doubt, 2018 was an outstanding year for our organization in expanding our support and reach in the community. The Restaurant at Meadowood began hosting an annual event called “12 Days of Christmas” which they continued to host for the next three years with proceeds going towards the scholarships. In the same year, the Roger J. Trinchero Family Foundation(RJTFF) generously committed their support for the next five years. Roger and his family have always been generous to organizations throughout our community, and his generosity will have a lasting and transformational impact on our children and families in the community for years to come.
In the last three years with the RJTFF support, we were able to make major changes to meet the needs of our working families who were in desperate search of more preschool/childcare coverage. We have been able to expand our scholarships to cover the entire week and more than 8 hours per day, as well as after school and year-round coverage for all families if necessary. This has given our parents peace of mind to know that their children are in a positive learning environment while they focus on their work. Along with the extended hours and days we also now offer year-round coverage for all families. We are excited for the future of our program and know that everything we have accomplished over the last ten years would not be possible with the support and love of our community. We are honored to serve you!
By Jeannie Kerr, Treasurer
Students placed in Preschools