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    H-E-B Launches Early Childhood Award

    Texas grocer creates new category for its Excellence in Education program

    H-E-B has created a new category within its 2012 Excellence in Education Awards called the Early Childhood Award, aimed at supporting public or private schools or not-for-profit learning agencies that focus on the care and education of children under age 5.

    The purpose of the award is to offer support to help create or enhance kindergarten readiness programs that prepare children to enter kindergarten socially and academically ready to learn. Applications from across the state will be reviewed and five regional finalists will each win $5,000 to apply towards the enhancement of existing readiness activities or creating new programs for the target population.

    The overall statewide winner will be announced at the H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards ceremony next May 6 at the InterContinental Hotel in Houston and awarded an additional $25,000 grant.

    Applicants must demonstrate both a passion and a historical commitment to offering quality early childhood education; be successful in preparing students to enter kindergarten; and exhibit innovation and creativity in the classroom or program setting. Applications are being accepted online through Jan. 6, 2012.

    The Early Childhood Award underscores the H-E-B Read 3 Campaign, an early childhood literacy initiative launched in September to educate parents and caregivers about the importance of reading to children a minimum of three times per week and to provide families with the tools and resources they need to prepare their youngsters for school. To that end, H-E-B has opened 10 literacy centers within stores in San Antonio and South Texas. The literacy centers feature age-appropriate tables and chairs, a rocking chair for adult readers, an expanded kids’ library section, and a stage to host store events featuring beloved characters from children’s literature. The centers will also host special story times with community leaders and H-E-B Partners, and will provide access to affordably priced books and information about local literacy programs and services.

    “We strongly encourage those who work with our youngest learners at schools and other agencies to apply for the Early Childhood Award,” said Kate Rogers, H-E-B vice president of communication and engagement. “Every year, we visit schools all throughout Texas to see many outstanding teachers implementing innovative and exciting programs and practices that engage their students in learning. We look forward to discovering the wonderful things that early childhood educators are doing in their classrooms.”

    The H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards program was launched in 2002 in cooperation with the Texas Association of School Administrators as a strong way to support public education in Texas. It is a personal initiative of H-E-B CEO and Chairman, Charles Butt, who implemented the program to highlight the outstanding practices of Texas public schools and spotlight and celebrate the work of Texas educators. Since its inception, more than $5 million has been awarded to more than 1,700 educators and 500 schools and districts across the state.

    San Antonio-based H-E-B operates more than 300 stores in Texas and Mexico, employs more than 70,000 partners and serves millions of customers in more than 150 communities.

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