Rep. Grace Meng delivers major funding boost to local preschool in Jamaica

Rep. Grace Meng (center left) presents a check to the Queens Centers for Progress Apple Preschool to revitalize the building and facilities. Assemblymember Nily Rozic (center right) also came to show her support.
Photo by Athena Dawson

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-6) presented a check for $850,000 in federal funding to a local preschool in Jamaica on Tuesday, June 18. Meng was joined by parents, local government leaders, teachers, school board members and students at Queens Centers for Progress’ Apple Preschool for an early morning celebration. Apple Preschool provides specialized services to children with developmental disabilities to give them a positive learning environment and school experience. 

Apple Preschool students sing to the eager crowd. Photo by Athena Dawson

The event began with an enthusiastic performance of the Apple Bee Song, sung by the preschoolers. The students donned yellow plastic hard hats as parents and teachers cheered them on. Following the performance, Meng addressed the crowd, saying it was an honor to work with the Queens Centers for Progress and praised staff and representatives of the center. “I’m thrilled to have been able to secure critical federal funding so that this group and this team can do an even better job in reaching more people in our shared communities,” she said. “This group works tirelessly to provide services and support to children and adults with developmental disabilities,” she added.

Rep. Meng shares her support for staff and students at the preschool. Photo by Athena Dawson

Meng’s funding will go towards multiple projects in the building, including the installation of a new state-of-the-art fire alarm system, an HVAC system, an emergency exit ramp and other construction on the facility, which has served the community since the early 1950s. The funding will also go towards improving the facility’s playground, windows, boiler room and more. Meng said that every child in Queens has the right to thrive, flourish and reach their full potential. “This includes [children] with disabilities. Our children are our future and we must make the required investments to ensure their success,” Meng said. 

Following Rep. Meng’s speech, Assemblymember Nily Rozic (D-25) also addressed the crowd. Rozic expressed her excitement about the federal funding and thanked Meng for “fighting every day in Washington” to get resources back to the local community. 

Cindy Heller, director of Queens Center For Progress’ children’s services shared how thankful the staff are for the funding towards upgrading the school. Photo by Athena Dawson

Cindy Heller, director of  Queens Centers For Progress’ children’s services shared that the funding is greatly appreciated, as the building is in desperate need of an upgrade. “This money secured by [Rep. Meng] will help keep our school safe, secure and up to date. It will allow us to spend money normally budgeted for repairs or utility costs on our children, so they can learn and grow,” Heller said. 

One of the students presents a hand-made thank you card to Rep. Meng. Photo by Athena Dawson

The event ended with students presenting hand-made thank you cards to Rep. Meng and a walkthrough of some of the physical therapy facilities and classrooms at the preschool.