Caldwell leaders expand P16 Project

Caldwell community leaders are expanding the reach of a go-on program that focused on early childhood education as a building block.

P16 students
Preschool students participating in The P16 Caldwell Education Project last school year.

Over the past six months, nearly 100 Canyon County businesses, organizations and nonprofits have pooled their resources to start the Caldwell Community Hub.

The idea involves capitalizing on the success of the P16 Caldwell Education Project, which offered preschool and focused on carrying momentum forward through all grade levels to inspire students to go on to college, or complete the 16th grade.

Nora Carpenter, president and CEO of the United Way of Treasure Valley, said backers of the original P16 program realized they could make a bigger splash if they expanded the scope of the project to include children’s time outside of school and the parents, guardians, caregivers, relatives and neighbors that make up the larger community.

That’s why they’ve enlisted the support of a litany of other support organizations, including the Idaho Department of Labor, LOVE Caldwell, Southwest District Health, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, Caldwell Public Library, Western Idaho Community Action Partnership and others.

“We decided to pause,” Carpenter said. “We really do an amazing job between the hours a child steps off the bus (in the morning) and the time they get back on the bus. But what about all the other hours and influences that make children who they are?”

Members of Caldwell Community Hub now meet every other week, where they encourage the recruitment of new participants, share resources and expound upon a vision for Caldwell’s future.

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In short, their vision has expanded from children’s school experience to the health and well being of the community as a whole.

“We’re trying to connect families with the resources they need and developing the whole child,” said Stephanie Carpenter, director of special services for the Caldwell School District. “They are far more able to be educated and learn if we meet their basic needs.”

The other aim of the program is to combat an image of Caldwell that is unfairly portrayed as negative, Hub members said.

“I take responsibility as the chief educator in Caldwell to make sure our school system is viewed as an asset to the community,” Superintendent Tim Rosandick said. “Unless the schools are viewed as being effective, people who have a choice about living here aren’t going to live here.”

Even as the expansion occurs, the preschool component of P16 continues to serve 80 students at Sacajawea and Wilson elementary schools this year.

Community Hub/P16 leaders have ramped up preschool by reaching out to 21 additional preschool providers operating outside the school district. Now, they share resources from the YMCA’s existing P16 preschool teachers and the professional development team at the Lee Pesky Learning Center.

The expanded focus under the rebranded Caldwell Community Hub is still gaining momentum, but members plan to showcase the partnership and share resources publicly during parent-teacher conferences at Caldwell schools in February.

For more information about joining the Caldwell Community Hub, contact the United Way at 336-1070 or Stephanie Carpenter at the Caldwell School District at 455-3300.