We did it! DPS pre-k students join PNC to raise vocabulary awareness and set new Guinness World Records® mark

– More than 4,000 children take part in world’s largest vocabulary lesson –

DETROIT, Oct. 30, 2014 – Holding tiger masks and seated on colorful reading rugs, prekindergarten students from Detroit Public Schools learned words and listened to their teachers read as they helped set a new GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® title for the largest vocabulary lesson.

The 250 DPS children were among more than 4,000 children in 37 cities across 15 states and the District of Columbia who participated in the simultaneous lesson. The PNC Financial Services Group (NYSE: PNC) hosted the event in support of Grow Up Great, its $350 million, multi-year bilingual initiative in early childhood education. The new record was set with the initial 1,031 participants documented by the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS organization. The total is expected to increase as GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS organization officials receive video and written documentation from the various locations.

“Young children learn best when they take part in engaging, fun activities,” said Karen Ridgeway, Superintendent of Academics for Detroit Public Schools.  “At DPS, we embrace, support and provide high-quality early childhood education because know a great foundation in early learning is the foundation for academic success. We appreciate PNC’s ongoing support of our district and today’s event, which helped reinforce the teaching of new words and added to the excitement we in DPS are building for vocabulary in our pre-kindergarten classrooms.”

Vocabulary development is a priority as PNC Grow Up Great celebrates 10 years of helping children – especially at-risk children – prepare for kindergarten. The Fred Rogers Company and Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children (PAEYC), PNC’s partners in early education, developed the lesson with words selected from “Mr. Tiger Goes Wild,” a picture book by Caldecott Honoree Peter Brown (published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), about a civilized tiger who, bored with his prim and proper lifestyle, runs away to the jungle to discover what makes him happy. The highly acclaimed picture book celebrates individuality and received five-star reviews.

“Pursuit of this world record is a great way to bring attention to a serious issue – the importance of vocabulary for a child’s success in school and life,” said Ric DeVore, PNC regional president for Detroit and Southeast Michigan. “A landmark study found that some at-risk children hear 30 million fewer words by age 4 than a child from a more well-to-do household.”

Today’s event is one of PNC’s initiatives to encourage parents and caregivers to talk and read to their children as a means to build vocabulary and help them gain the skills they need to succeed in school.

To foster the home to school connection, each participating child took home the book and “Words are Here, There, and Everywhere,” a new, English/Spanish multimedia kit created by Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame StreetTM, as part of an ongoing partnership with PNC. The educational kit builds on young children’s natural sense of curiosity to grow their vocabulary around math concepts, science, and the arts. All bilingual materials are available for free at PNC Bank branches, pncgrowupgreat.com, and sesamestreet.org/words. Additional materials are available online, including an educator’s guide and a vocabulary tree.

The vocabulary lesson will be posted to an online Lesson Center which features practical, developmentally appropriate activities for pre-K teachers.  Many of the lessons on the pncgrowupgreat.com site were developed by a consortium of science and cultural centers that collaborated over the past four years to enhance science and arts education for young children served by PNC’s early education programs.

The success of the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® attempt was made possible in part through the volunteering efforts by employees of EY, a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services, who served both as observers and stewards tracking student participation in approximately 20 locations. In addition, hundreds of PNC Bank employees worked with teachers and students to help present the event as part of a progressive policy that permits up to 40 hours a year of paid time off for volunteerism.

The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (www.pnc.com) is one of the United States’ largest diversified financial services organizations providing retail and business banking; residential mortgage banking; specialized services for corporations and government entities, including corporate banking, real estate finance and asset-based lending; wealth management and asset management.

Photo credit: Harold Harris photography

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