Lauderdale County, Miss. Better education in Mississippi has been a hot topic over the years. One foundation that was started over 50 years ago, is continually striving to do just that. The Phil Hardin Foundation was founded in 1964 in Meridian. The Foundation says that education all starts with developing kids mentally at a younger age.
The importance of education and it's benefit on children can be linked to a successful career. Over the years Mississippi has revamped their educational standards, to become more in line with those of other states. Improving upon education in its entirety, is the focus for many education foundations, including The Phil Hardin Foundation, who have recently shifted their focus to early education.
"We believe very strongly, that early education is essential to improving the overall educational achievement of Mississippi school children," said Lloyd Gray who heads the foundation. "We have to get to children earlier."
The National Association for the Education of Young Children says that opening the minds of children up to learning at an early age can produce short and long-term positive effects on the child's cognitive and social development.
"All the research now shows that brain development in the first five years, is critical to have parents knowing how to stimulate their children's brain development," said Gray. "It's important for parents to know how to interact with their children and get them ready for the education system when they enter kindergarten."
The Hardin Foundation who is based in Meridian has a focus to allocate 50% of their grants to the Lauderdale County area with the other 50% allocated statewide; in hopes of producing a highly successful school system and community.
"There's a strong link, an undeniable link, that if you have a strong effective public school system, you are going to have a stronger community," stated Gray.
Since the foundation has planted their seeds in improving education, more than $38.8 million in grants and loans have been provided to improving education to provide a better standard of living.
The Phil Hardin Foundation is based in Meridian. It has assets of $53 million dollars and has made grants totaling over $2 million dollars in 2014.