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Education Foundation supports early learning with St. Lucie Cultural Alliance

The St. Lucie County Education Foundation has awarded a grant totaling $41,050 to the St. Lucie Cultural Alliance to support the ACE – Arts Conserve the Environment initiative.

ACE is an arts conservation initiative designed to improve community well-being by encouraging youth and adults to recycle more, rethink how they are using products, reduce household waste, and repurpose items to keep our communities clean and divert waste from the landfills and waterways.

Private sector funds from PNC Bank and the St. Lucie Cultural Alliance were donated to the Education Foundation and matched by the Foundation with funding from the State of Florida’s School District Education Foundation Matching Grant Program, facilitated by the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations.

The St. Lucie Cultural Alliance collaborated with St. Lucie Public Schools to introduce this program to students. Dr. Karen Crocco, Learning & Development Specialist and Early Childhood professionals Dr. Mary Huffstetter & Cassandra Velasquez developed & executed the programs for St. Lucie Public Schools.

St. Lucie Cultural Alliance Executive Director Alyona Aleksandra Ushe was instrumental in developing the concept of blending art & science and collaborating with community partners to bring ACE to the school district. Ms. Ushe stated that “our goal is to improve community well-being by encouraging youth to recycle more, rethink how they use products, reduce household waste and repurpose items to protect our natural environment. The Oxbow Eco Center is the perfect venue to introduce these concepts to VPK level students”.

As part of the program, VPK students from St. Lucie Elementary & Lawnwood Elementary initially visited Oxbow Eco-Center to learn about wildlife and the value of recycling & using artistic talents to gain a better connection with nature. All VPK students will attend Oxbo in the coming weeks.

This is the first time the Education Foundation has funded a VPK STEM program, thanks to the initiative of Cynthia Pilloni, Vice President, Client & Community Relations Assistant Director and Immediate Past Chair of the Education Foundation.  PNC has a long standing corporate interest in funding early learning initiatives, such as PNC Grow Up Great a comprehensive, bilingual program designed to help prepare children for success in school and life.

Thom Jones, President of the Education Foundation states that “a core mission of the Education Foundation is to fund innovations in learning, especially at the early learning level. The ACE program brings together a wide range of community partners to help our students improve academic progress during their most formative age.”

Education Foundation, St. Lucie is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit corporation dedicating to advancing public K-12 education.  The Foundation has been providing grants to teachers and scholarships to students in St. Lucie County since 1990.

For more information, please contact Thom Jones, President at (772) 429-5505 or visit

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