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Investing in Early Childhood Education

PNC understands that starting at an early age to develop the workforce of the future is the right thing to do for children and communities. PNC Grow Up Great,® a multiyear, bilingual initiative was created to help children from birth through age five develop a passion for learning that lasts a lifetime – and can help set them on a path to success.

Entry Point to School Readiness

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At PNC, we are convinced that early childhood education offers the best return for our philanthropic dollars, with a benefit as high as $16 for every dollar invested.


of a child's brain develops before age 3

The Challenge

Research shows that high quality early childhood education improves children’s cognitive abilities and emotional development, builds a foundation for lifelong learning, makes learning outcomes more equitable, reduces poverty, and improves social mobility from generation to generation. 80% of a child’s brain development occurs before age three.

And yet, these critical experiences are not available to all children, and are particularly lacking for those in underserved communities, where too many enter kindergarten under prepared to succeed.

The Solution

In late 2002, PNC began to think about what would happen if the corporation focused its philanthropy on a singular issue of major importance in the communities it serves. In 2004, after extensive research and employee input, PNC launched PNC Grow Up Great® and PNC Crezca con Éxito, a comprehensive early childhood education effort designed to help young children develop a passion for learning.

To guide the initiative, PNC established an advisory council consisting of some of the nation’s most highly respected early childhood experts, and formed alliances with leading nonprofit organizations.

The Research

A significant body of research over the past 40 years supports the critical importance of quality early education to reduce dropout rates, poverty, crime, and also improve skills for the workforce of tomorrow.

For every $1 spent on quality early education, society reaps as much as $16 in long-term savings, according to a cost-benefit analysis of the Perry Preschool Study, a research project that spanned 40 years.

Research also shows that states that invest in early childhood education don’t have to spend nearly as much money later on special education, remedial job training, correctional facilities, and other costs that are a drain on economic growth.

Furthermore, today’s preschoolers are tomorrow’s consumers who will purchase goods and services, invest in their communities, and drive our economy. Just as important, they will become the workforce of tomorrow.


Through the Grow Up Great program, PNC brings quality early learning experiences to young children and provides free resources for parents, caregivers, and educators to foster daily learning interactions with young children.

Resources include:

  • PNC Grow Up Great Lesson Center: Free, high-quality arts and science lesson plans, with a Teacher’s Toolkit that contains videos and tips to support inquiry-based learning in the early childhood classroom.
  • Sesame Street® Learning Resources: Bilingual resources – from digital storybooks to podcasts and more – that were developed in partnership with Sesame Workshop and make learning together fun.
  • Everyday Learning Tips: Tips for every time of day – whether that’s bedtime, mealtime, or doing errands – that parents can use to turn everyday moments into learning opportunities for their child.

4.1 Million

children served by grant-funded programs and mobile educational tours


employee volunteer hours through a policy permitting up to 40 hours of paid time off for volunteerism

$137M in Grants

Distributed to Head Start and other organizations that support early childhood education

Key Partnerships

To make the greatest possible impact, PNC has partnered with leading, national nonprofit organizations.

Sesame Workshop – Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, helping kids grow up smarter, stronger, and kinder.

Fred Rogers Productions – Producer of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, this organization creates a wide range of multi-media materials dedicated to young children and their families.

National Head Start Association (NHSA) – NHSA is a private, national association that supports Head Start programs. It offers a wide variety of services and provides a number of programs designed to directly enhance the operations of Head Start and Childhood Education communities and enrich the lives of Head Start students, parents, and staff.

On the regional level, PNC partners with leading arts, cultural, science, and early childhood education programs that identify opportunities within communities, and subsequently develop solutions to effectively address them.

Is this a model other businesses could use?

Yes, this model can be replicated by businesses that commit to a long-term, comprehensive approach to addressing a societal issue. The need is large and the results are impressive, which should motivate other companies to become involved.

Evaluating Program Success

To date, PNC Grow Up Great has served more than four million young children through extensive grants to local non-profits and education organizations, the active volunteerism of the company’s more than 50,000 employees, and leadership in advocacy for early learning as a local legislative and funding priority.

PNC evaluates major grant initiatives and facilitates best-practice sharing among grant partners. A recent evaluation of a multi-city vocabulary development initiative showed that participating families increased the frequency of interactions that build vocabulary, such as reading, singing, and nature walks.

Post-program, 78 percent of participants reported reading to their young child at least once a day, while only 32 percent were previously daily readers.

Learn more about the impact of PNC Grow Up Great grants, awareness, and volunteerism efforts on their website at

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