ABC Action News is revealing a bold, new partnership designed to improve the lives of thousands of children and their families in the Tampa Bay Area.
Philanthropist, Dr. Kiran Patel, of the Patel Foundation, is partnering with the Hillsborough County School District and donating $2.5 million dollars of his own money, to Shaw Elementary School, in an effort to level the playing field for kids in the area.
"I always felt its so important that if anybody can give any gift, education will be the best gift we can give because that will empower them for their lives," said Dr. Patel.
As early as next month, they will break ground on an early learning facility at Shaw Elementary School. The facility will aim to educate toddlers before they reach Kindergarten.
"The past few years, Kindergartners coming in, we've only had 20% prepared to start kindergarten, so they're already two years behind before they even get to in Kindergarten, and that achievement gap is almost impossible to catch up with by the time they hit third grade," said Dr. Patel's brother.
Earlier in November, Dr. Patel shared his vision with the Hillsborough County School's Superintendent, Jeff Eakins. The long-term plan is to erect multiple buildings on the property of the school, including a gymnasium, using the money already budgeted for this school as well as his family's generous donation.
"The passion that my father had in educating me and others, I wanted to carry on that torch that he had passed on to me to ensure that I can do something in the world that is impactful," said Dr. Patel.
The Patel family is also announcing they're expanding their offer to give more kids at Shaw Elementary college scholarships.
ABC Action News will continue to follow this project, and it's impact on the community as it progresses.