NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- The U.S. Secretary of Education and Congressman Bobby Scott toured a Norfolk preschool Thursday. It was a chance for the officials to see how federal funding, aimed at improving access, is working.

Back in 2014, the commonwealth was awarded a $17 million grant to increase access to preschool programs. Norfolk State benefits from the money, which supports low to moderate-income families.

"It provides instructional resources, it provides some technological support," said Denise Littleton, dean of Norfolk State University's school of education.

But perhaps most importantly, it provides tuition assistance to the families of some of the kids you see here, who would not be able to afford it.

Scott and King both said quality preschool makes a difference. King adding students who participate are more likely to graduate from high school and advance to college.

"My parents passed away when I was a kid," said King. "School saved my life. School's the reason I'm alive today, school's the reason I became a teacher. School is the reason I'm doing this work. And I see trying to help these students as part of paying forward," he said.