NOVATO – Marin Community Foundation announced more than $6 million in grants to help low-income students and students of color succeed academically.

The grants are being made under the foundation’s five-year strategic initiative to close the education achievement gap in Marin. Funding is focused on San Rafael, Novato, Sausalito Marin City and Shoreline, the four districts in Marin attended by the largest numbers of low-income students and students of color.

“Over the first couple of years of these efforts, we and our partners have learned a lot about the importance of a multi-faceted approach to ensure that these students benefit from the same kind of academic and career support as their peers, and ultimately enjoy the same success as well,” said Dr. Thomas Peters, president and chief executive officer of the foundation.

Roughly $3 million will support after-school academic and social programs designed to help these students get into and succeed in college. More than $2 million will go toward the foundation’s focus on early education, from preschool through third grade, so students get a strong head start in their schooling. And the final $1 million will support a variety of efforts to help schools attended by the targeted students meet the needs of those who are falling behind.

The college readiness efforts will enable students to improve their study skills, prepare for tests, receive academic counseling, develop social and leadership skills and learn about the college admissions and selection process.

Also, a grant to 10,000 Degrees will provide scholarship funds for students with financial needs.

“So often, students fall through the cracks because they don’t get the extra help with their studies that can make the difference between dropping out and thriving. This is a missed opportunity for these students, their families, and the community as a whole, so we’re determined to help fill that void,” said Dr. Peters.

The early education grants will continue to support a number of efforts that have already shown to be successful, he said. These include a focus on involving families in their children’s education, enhancing teacher training, ensuring smooth transitions between grades, and using data to identify the specific needs of each student.

“It’s increasingly clear that helping kids succeed in their earliest years of school can have an impact in later grades, and even beyond,” Dr. Peters said. “And it starts in preschool, where children acquire the skills to thrive in kindergarten.”

To date, the foundation has granted nearly $9 million under its education initiative. “For as long as the foundation has existed, education has been at the very top of our list of priorities,” said Dr. Peters. “As a county, we are very lucky that education is so highly valued by people throughout Marin. There are many educators, parents, and community members eager to do what it takes to help all our young people succeed.”