January 18, 2019 Governor Wolf Announces $10.5 Million for Preschool Students SHARE Email Facebook Twitter Education, Press Release, Schools That Teach Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today announced an additional $10.5 million to help preschool-age children transition to kindergarten. The funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services builds on the governor’s commitment to expanding early education for Pennsylvania’s youngest children.“I am committed to investing in young children and their futures,” said Governor Wolf. “That starts by continuing to make early education a priority for Pennsylvania. Supporting children as they move from preschool to kindergarten helps them succeed in the classroom. This early success creates opportunities for them to do well in school for years to come.”Since taking office in 2015, Governor Wolf has successfully worked with the state legislature to expand state-funded preschool by $115 million, adding more than 9,600 slots in Pre-K Counts, and an additional 1,300 in Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program.“Research shows that children with access to high-quality early learning programs go on to perform better in school and beyond,” said Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) Secretary Pedro A. Rivera. “By investing in these programs, we are ensuring that students have the building blocks in place to succeed as they enter elementary school.”The Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) applied for the federal Preschool Development Grant, which will be used to provide professional development for early learning educators and to promote partnerships among early learning providers, community agencies, and school districts to help children prepare for successful transitions from early learning programs to kindergarten. OCDEL is a collaborative effort between PDE and the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS).“Behavioral challenges can make it harder for children to succeed in education, especially when these needs go unidentified and unaddressed. Recognizing behavioral challenges early can help educators work with students so they do not become barriers to academic, social, and emotional development,” said DHS Teresa Secretary Miller. “This grant will allow early education programs around Pennsylvania to better meet the unique and complex needs of children they educate, setting a stronger foundation for success throughout all levels of education.”Funding will also support strategic planning to expand access to behavioral supports for medically eligible children birth to age 5, and recruit coaches currently in ECE programs to participate in a coaching support pilot project.More information about the Commonwealth’s early learning programs is available on the PDE website or the DHS website. Visit the Preschool Development Grant program for more information.
Swiss Pensionskasse are demonstrating an appetite for infrastructure assets as they seek to diversify their alternatives exposure.Speaking at the Institutional Retirement and Investor Summit in Vienna last week, Roger Mohr, chief financial officer at the CHF300m (€245m) pension fund for the Swiss air rescue service Rega, said the fund was seeking further diversification for its alternatives portfolio via infrastructure debt.“Infrastructure debt allows us to skim the illiquidity premium and for our fund it does not matter if 20% to 30% of the portfolio is less liquid,” he said.The Pensionskasse currently invests 16% of its assets in alternatives, with an increasing share of that being out to work in infrastructure and private equity. “Our strategic allocation is 19% but not all our capital calls have been invested yet,” Mohr said.When Swiss government bonds turned negative, new investments were made in “alternatives in the fixed income segment”.Mohr said: “Back then those were insurance-linked securities and catastrophe bonds, but those have become quite expensive already, especially when hedged in [Swiss francs].”For the CHF12bn ASGA Pensionskasse in Switzerland, infrastructure was also the way forward to further diversify the alternatives portfolio, said Sergio Bortolin, CEO.“But we are struggling to find new investments at the right time, so we are using proxy investments with higher liquidity to be able to take out the money when necessary,” he said.After a strategic review of the alternatives segment – which makes up around 17% of the portfolio – the pension fund began reducing its exposure to hedge funds, as the performance expectations hedged to Swiss francs were no longer being fulfilled.“We are also switching from a fund-of-funds construct to an individual fund to have more access and control over the around 300 hedge funds we are investing in,” Bortolin added.However, for investors like Pensionskassen in Germany – which are a completely different construct compared to the pension funds of the same name in Switzerland – investing in alternatives is much more difficult.Andreas Hilka, board member at the €7.9bn German Hoechst Pensionskasse, cited regulation as a limiting factor: “There are very strict rules for German Pensionskassen like stress tests and a requirement to be fully funded at all times. This means we cannot be invested economically correctly at all times.”Referring to credit risks in the portfolio, such as investment grade and high yield bonds, Hilka said: “Those have generated a lot of performance over the last [few] years but now we would like to reduce the credit risk. However, based on our risk specifications there are no risk-adjusted alternatives.”Charlotte Klinnert, CFO at the €750m Pensionskasse for the German Red Cross, said the cost of alternatives was a limiting factor.“Complexity is an issue which renders some alternative investments unaffordable, they simply are not worth the effort,” she said.In addition, the Pensionskasse had a low capacity for risk, Klinnert said. The core portfolio of bonds, equity and real estate was balanced to match the fund’s risk profile, meaning that “alternative investments like infrastructure are no option for us”.
Jill PeterFor the first time in 2,198 days, the Wisconsin volleyball team watched as its school’s name and logo flashed on the television projector on Selection Sunday as a participant in the women’s volleyball Division I NCAA tournament.Wisconsin (23-9, 21-8 Big Ten) earned the No. 12 seed in the tournament and will host its first round match Friday night against in-state rival Milwaukee at the UW Field House. If Wisconsin were to defeat Milwaukee, it would move on to Saturday’s second-round match to face the winner of North Carolina and California.With the Badgers making their 17th overall NCAA tournament appearance and fourth place finish in the Big Ten, head coach Kelly Sheffield said there has been an obvious sense of enthusiasm with the team since Selection Sunday.“[We’re] fired up,” Sheffield said. “[We’re] excited — it’s a new season. It’s what you want to be a part of. You realize that you’re doing something that the majority of the country isn’t doing.”The Badgers finished their regular season winning four of their last five matches, including back-to-back road victories over top 20 teams in Michigan State and Michigan.Sheffield said it’s easy for a team’s energy to dry up at the end of a grueling regular season, especially in the physically demanding Big Ten conference. But he said the team’s post-season prospects have breathed more life into an already determined Badger squad.“I thought the past few weeks, for the most part, we’d been playing really well,” Sheffield said. “I think we’re getting better, which tells me we haven’t played our best volleyball. You get a little worried when at the end of the year if you run out of gas — our kids haven’t run out of gas. Mentally, they’re fresh, they’re excited. I think we’re in a really good place.”Wisconsin is familiar with its first-round opponent. UW defeated Milwaukee 3-1 on Sept. 14 during the InnTower Invitational Tournament. Wisconsin held the Horizon regular season and tournament champions to a .140 hitting percentage, forcing three Panthers into negative hitting territory.Milwaukee’s senior middle blocker Rachel Neuberger and 2012 All-Horizon League player only had seven kills against Wisconsin early this season, but she registered seven of Milwaukee’s 10 blocks. The Panther’s leading attacker in junior outside hitter Julie Kolinske, who averages 3.28 kills per set, managed 15 kills in four sets against the Badgers.Milwaukee last made a NCAA tournament appearance in 2011, its 10th appearance overall, when the team was knocked out by Iowa State in the first round.Senior libero Annemarie Hickey said there’s some comfort playing a team that Wisconsin has already beaten this year. She said there is also a sense of relief in not having to travel to an unknown gym this weekend.“Just having our fan support here is really great,” Hickey said. “They’re really fired up that we’re back in the Field House.”Wisconsin will most likely face a talented North Carolina squad on Saturday if UW wins on Friday. No. 15 UNC finished the season with a 27-4 record and with three Tar Heels earning All-ACC honors.As the only senior on the team, and with this NCAA tournament her final chance to extend her collegiate volleyball career, Hickey said this is the time to let everything go and have no regrets about how she approaches this weekend. But she said it’s a relief that she can play at least once in the tournament.“[There’s] a lot of pressure off of my shoulders,” Hickey said. “[There’s] just a lot of excitement. The first thing I thought of was, ‘When can we get in the gym? When are we going to be able to play and practice so we can take on our next opponent?’”For Wisconsin, however, the pressure of performing is far from over. Even upperclassmen, like junior outside hitter Ellen Chapman, said they may feel the butterflies in their stomachs when they step out onto the court on Friday night.“I think I’m going to be a little nervous,” Chapman said. “I know that our whole season is riding on these games that we’re playing. Every point is going to mean so much more … we know if things don’t go our way, our season’s over.”Chapman said she hasn’t even watched the annual Selection Sunday in the previous two years — she knew Wisconsin would not be one of the 64 teams announced to play in the postseason.But this season, Chapman and the whole team watched intently to discover Wisconsin would host the first two rounds of tournament play, surprising Chapman.She said the team reacted to witnessing its first NCAA tournament appearance in six seasons with ecstatic hugging, jumping and screaming.“Everyone’s just been so jacked up these past couple of days,” Chapman said. “It’s really exciting.”