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PCPS & Bezos Academy Bringing Free Preschool To Lakeland

Polk County Public Schools announced today (Dec. 13) that a tuition-free, full-day preschool will soon be coming to Lakeland.

Bezos Academy Lakeland will be housed in a section of Oscar J. Pope Elementary, at 2730 Maine Ave. in Lakeland.

The five-classroom preschool will accommodate up to 100 students ages 3-5. Offering full-day, year-round programming, the Montessori-inspired curriculum focuses on hands-on activities to teach literacy, math, sensory development, social-emotional learning, and more. Bezos Academy covers all the operating expenses for preschool programs at no cost to the families they serve. The organization hires, trains, develops, and pays talented educators, and provides everything that the children need during their day, including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. 

“This partnership will help expand access to high-quality preschool education for our most underserved families,” said PCPS Superintendent Fred Heid. “Children who participate in this program will build a strong foundation for lifelong learning.”

“Research shows that children who successfully complete preschool are more likely to graduate from high school,” Heid said. “In addition, they develop important socialization skills, including how to follow rules, share, and communicate with others.”

When I visit our schools, I’m always struck by the impact that a tuition-free, full-day preschool can have on a community. Preschool gets children get off to the right educational start, while also helping parents and families make time and space for their own careers,” said Mike George, President of Bezos Academy. “We’re grateful to have found partners in Superintendent Heid and the Polk County School Board who know firsthand the difference that preschool can make to a child’s future, and who are deeply invested in expanding access to early childhood education in Lakeland.”

Families earning up to 400% of the federal poverty level (about $120,000 per year for a family of four)with children aged 3-4 are eligible to apply. The preschool is expected to open in 2025. Once the opening date is set, more information and an application for the lottery-based selection process will be posted at www.bezosacademy.org.


About PCPS

Polk County Public Schools is one of the largest school districts in the nation, serving more than 116,000 students. With nearly 30 certified or model career academies, PCPS has become a destination for school districts around the United States interested in learning about and applying the academy model. PCPS also provides a variety of rigorous academic programs designed to accelerate student potential and spur intellectual curiosity, including Advanced Placement course as well as dual enrollment classes through post-secondary institutions. Learn more about the school district’s academic programs and career academies by visitingpolkschoolsfl.com.

About Bezos Academy 

Bezos Academy is a non-profit organization that is building a network of fully-funded tuition-free preschools. Our preschools offer year-round, full-day programming, five days a week, for children ages 3-5 years old from low-income families. Bezos Academy also provides students with all necessary educational supplies and services to set each student up for success, including Montessori materials, books, arts and crafts, field trips, and meals. As of November 2023, Bezos Academy has 19 schools operating across Washington, Texas, and Florida, and agreements in place to open locations across these states and others, including Hawaii, Kentucky and Arizona. For more information, visit: www.bezosacademy.org.

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Carl Fish

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