Masonic Charity Foundation of Oklahoma Awards $100,000 to Smart Start Central Oklahoma

November 4, 2021

Smart Start Central Oklahoma received a $100,000 grant from the Masonic Charity Foundation of Oklahoma to expand its Early Birds program to rural Oklahoma. The gift will allow Smart Start to engage with and support 300 families living in rural areas of Oklahoma.

“The Masonic Charity Foundation of Oklahoma has strong ties to rural Oklahoma,” said Sandy Cotton, Smart Start’s Executive Director. “We are honored to partner with them to provide early childhood educational services to all hard-working families of Oklahoma.” 

“The pandemic taught us that through the use of technology, business and education can continue wherever we are located,” said John Logan, Executive Director. “We are hopeful the expanded delivery of the Early Birds programs will have a positive impact on our children."

Early Birds is a series of parenting classes that equip parents and caregivers to serve as a child’s first and most influential teacher. Parents may start with a prenatal class and then take additional classes as their child grows and develops from birth to age 5. Classes are free to participants and offered in both English and Spanish. Additionally, families receive a kit full of educational materials including toys, books, games, and community resource information so they may replicate what they learn in each class at home with their child.

Early Birds classes are offered both in-person and through a virtual format allowing parents to attend sessions that best fit their needs. Initially, classes for rural areas will be offered virtually with plans to provide in-person classes as interest builds. 

“A virtual format gives us the opportunity to deliver Early Birds with safety and flexibility for families and caregivers in mind,” explained Programs Director Shannon Dennis. “We are excited to strengthen our relationships with communities across Oklahoma. Long term, we will work towards training instructors living in these communities to teach Early Birds, so that families may build connections with both Smart Start and others living and working nearby. This will create a stronger support network for parents and caregivers working to prepare their children for success.”

The Masonic Charity Foundation of Oklahoma’s mission is to provide a network of programs supporting the charitable and educational needs of Oklahoma from every walk of life while remaining firmly committed to the Masonic tenets and their continuing legacy of leadership and stewardship.

“Because of the support of the Masonic Charity Foundation of Oklahoma, more families, no matter their zip code, will have access to quality early childhood development programs,” said Cotton. “We are grateful for their belief in our work to improve school readiness skills in Oklahoma children.”

William Cloud, Sandy Cotton, Kristi Leonard, John Logan