While the image of preschool teachers and aids may not, at first, evoke images of bravery, don’t tell that to Jennifer Gifford, owner of Sprouts Preschool and Childcare in Edmonds, Washington. “Our incredible employees didn’t waver a bit and came to work to face the pandemic head-on,” she says. “All they thought about was our little kids and their families and they just got to work – adding safety measures and PPE and doing what they do best – teach and protect children.”

The pandemic has taken on real toll on facilities like Sprouts and Gifford and her team have kept doing the best they can. “COVID has greatly affected the childcare industry and all key groups, children, parents and staff have really suffered,” she continues.

That impact is the key reason why Gifford’s is partnering with Columbia Bank’s Pass it On Project and that is why Sprouts Preschool and Childcare is providing free tuition to teachers and Columbia Bank is paying the bill. “We are thrilled to be able to pass on free tuition to families we know who are also teachers,” says Gifford. “We obviously have a special place in our heart for teachers, and after everything Columbia Bank has already done to help our small business, it just feels perfect to partner on this wonderful project.”