The Detroit Public Schools Foundation received a $1.5-million donation today from the PNC Foundation to be used for early childhood education.

DPS will use the money for professional development for preschool teachers in the areas of arts and sciences. It also will fund hands-on experiences for preschoolers, including field trips and family days at the Detroit Science Center and Orchestra Hall.

“For Detroit Public Schools, this is a major component in our preparation gap program,” said Robert Bobb, DPS emergency financial manager. “I believe strongly that when you teach kids at an early age, those are the children most likely to succeed, when they have a strong academic education early on.”

DPS is funding 12 new preschool classrooms in seven schools next year, which will serve 192 children, Bobb said. The school district is also offering preschoolers summer school classes for the first time this summer. Those new classes will not be funded by this donation but they will be able to benefit from the projects paid for by the PNC funding, Bobb said.

The PNC Foundation, which is affiliated with PNC Banks, is also donating another $300,000 each to the Detroit Science Center and Orchestra Hall for projects and activities related to early childhood education.

“These two partners are doing professional development as well as creating activities that are developmentally appropriate,” said Joe Balaban, PNC Foundation manager of external communications. “It’s creating activities that are sensible and logical for a 4-year-old to pick up.”

The $2.1-million donation to this area is part of the PNC Foundation’s $100 million, 10-year early childhood initiative called Grow Up Great.

PNC was also the first donor to DPS’ foundation when the foundation was resurrected after several years of dormancy, donating $100,000 at that time.

Contact PEGGY WALSH-SARNECKI : 313-222-8851 or mmwalsh@freepress.com