PNC pledges $500,000 for preschool if Ballard’s plan prevails

PNC Bank in Indiana is joining in with a half-million dollar pledge of financial support for preschool if only Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard can find a way to get his $50 million plan approved.

The plan, announced in July, would create a public-private tuition support program for low income families to send their children to highly-rated preschools. But on Monday, City-County Council Democrats shelved the plan over objections to Ballard’s idea to eliminate the Homestead Tax Credit program to raise the money fund it. City officials have said they will keep working to try to find a compromise.

Lilly executives have vowed to work with other businesses to raise $10 million over the next three years for the preschool plan starting with a $2 million commitment from their foundation, but that investment is contingent on Ballard, a Republican, and a Democrat-controlled council working out a deal on preschool.

So is the PNC money.

“PNC’s funding support will be contingent upon the willingness of Mayor Greg Ballard and City-County Council to act now on a plan to expand access to high-quality preschools in Indianapolis,” Connie Bond Stuart, PNC regional president of Central and Southern Indiana, speaking on behalf of the PNC Foundation, said in a statement. ” The city has a viable opportunity to provide life-changing help to hundreds, eventually thousands of vulnerable children.”

Stuart said Ballard’s plan is an opportunity to use early learning to address the root cause of many problems in Indianapolis.

“This is a time of great opportunity and promise for early childhood education in Indianapolis,” she said. “Research shows that 90 percent of a child’s brain is formed by the time he or she is 5 years old, and we recognize that access to quality early childhood education has the potential to positively influence the trajectory of the lives of young children.”

In 2004, PNC Bank created the $350 million Grow Up Great initiative aimed at better preparing young children to begin school.

To see Chalkbeat’s continuing coverage of Ballard’s preschool plan, check out our story roundup.