Samantha Meinke, W.K. Kellogg Foundation
MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. –The Kresge Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) and PNC Foundation today announced $2.5 million in joint grants to support improvements in early childhood education facilities in Detroit neighborhoods in an expansion of the three-year-old Learning Spaces program.
The announcement came at the annual Mackinac Policy Conference of the Detroit Chamber of Commerce as part of a panel on aligning early childhood and K-12 educational systems. The panel featured Kresge President Rip Rapson, PNC Regional President for Detroit and Southeast Michigan Ric DeVore, W.K. Kellogg Foundation President La June Montgomery Tabron and Detroit Public Schools Community District Superintendent Nikolai Vitti.
“We are all united in the belief that we can give Detroit children the education that meets their needs and provides the foundation for a more equitable city,” said Rapson. “That means both adequate resources for every level and working together to ensure that the early childhood sector understands the needs of K-12 and vice versa. Learning Spaces fills an enormous need for early childhood providers who want to upgrade their facilities to better serve children.”
“Extensive research indicates that the returns on investment in high-quality early education and school readiness initiatives are significant and long lasting – impacting our children, our society and the health of our economy,” said DeVore. “Today’s grants recognize that early childcare providers, who establish a foundation for learning, need support to become stronger businesses with improved facilities that provide safe, nurturing and intellectually stimulating environments for the earliest years.”
“Partnerships drive transformative change,” said Tabron. “This is the type of partnership we all envisioned, together, when we launched Hope Starts Here in 2017. With our collective support, we are putting Detroit’s young children and families first with improved access to safe and inspiring early learning environments. Quality early childhood education is critical to our children’s success.”
The Learning Spaces effort is part of Hope Starts Here, a citywide engagement process that has created a framework for coordinated, high-quality early childhood systems for Detroit children focusing on priorities like facilities quality and maternal and child health, among others. Kresge and WKKF joined together to launch Hope Starts Here in 2016 with a goal of making Detroit a city that puts its children first.
The new Learning Spaces grants support the nonprofit organization IFF. In 2015, Kresge backed an IFF pilot effort to help early childcare providers by covering the cost of real estate consulting assistance, minor repairs and other facility-related needs. Learning Spaces has since expanded through support from other foundations, including WKKF, which granted the organization $1.5 million last year for improvements to facilities to support brain development among attending children, decrease environmental hazards and stabilize enrollment.
WKKF’s additional $500,000 investment in Learning Spaces, announced Wednesday, continues its citywide efforts to target 10 to 12 high-quality, home-based and center-based licensed early childhood education providers operating across Detroit. In 2015, WKKF provided funding to IFF to create a facilities assessment and renovation program to address and increase quality in the near term for providers.
PNC’s $1 million grant will support IFF’s work in Detroit neighborhoods by improving the quality of early childhood education facilities, providing targeted technical assistance and addressing specific needs of providers who would like to offer extended or after-hours care. Funding will also help support strategic investments in the Brightmoor area, including home-based providers. PNC made the grant in support of PNC Grow Up Great, its bilingual $500 million, multi-year initiative to help prepare children from birth to age 5 for success in school and life.
Kresge’s $1 million will help fund work citywide, as well as specifically in the Livernois-McNichols area, where the foundation supports the comprehensive neighborhood developments efforts alongside the Live6 Alliance, an economic development organization.
“Efficient lighting, upgraded heating/cooling, better security, new playgrounds – these all contribute to high-quality facilities for young children to learn and grow,” said IFF Director of Early Childhood Education Monica Duncan. “But tackling facility repairs and renovations can be overwhelming for smaller providers that have few staff, small budgets, and little time to request grant funding. That’s why our Learning Spaces program is such a game-changer for providers who care about quality.”
IFF will take applications from both home-based and center-based care providers to improve the quality of their spaces, which may involve small repairs, larger upgrades or equipment purchases. Applicants can seek up to $50,000. (Learn more about applying at iff.org/learningspaces.)
Since 2016, IFF’s Learning Spaces program has invested $1.1 million in childcare facility improvements throughout the city – serving 1,525 children and creating 106 new slots in the process.
Kresge’s support for work in the Livernois-McNichols area also supplements the creation of a P-20 cradle-to-career campus at the site of Marygrove College. Partners in the P-20 campus – Starfish Family Services, Detroit Public Schools Community District, the University of Michigan and Marygrove College – seek to develop exceptional educational opportunities in the surrounding neighborhoods while ensuring that nearby early childhood providers have access to resources and technical assistance to improve the quality of their facilities.
The Learning Spaces program is part of all three foundations’ commitment to holistic community development strategies that are anchored by high-quality early childhood opportunities.
“Early childhood education providers in different parts of the city face diverse challenges,” IFF’s Duncan said. “This focused approach in specific geographies will allow us to develop communities of practice where early childhood providers can learn together and support each other.”
About the Organizations
The PNC Foundation, which receives its principal funding from The PNC Financial Services Group (www.pnc.com), actively supports organizations that provide services for the benefit of communities in which it has a significant presence. The foundation focuses its philanthropic mission on early childhood education and community and economic development, which includes the arts and culture. Through Grow Up Great, its signature cause that began in 2004, PNC has created a bilingual $500 million, multi-year initiative to help prepare children from birth to age 5 for success in school and life.
The Kresge Foundation was founded in 1924 to promote human progress. Today, Kresge fulfills that mission by building and strengthening pathways to opportunity for low-income people in America’s cities, seeking to dismantle structural and systemic barriers to equality and justice. Using a full array of grant, loan, and other investment tools, Kresge invests more than $160 million annually to foster economic and social change. Kresge’s Detroit Program collaborates with civic, nonprofit and business partners to promote and expand long-term, equitable opportunity in our hometown for current and future residents.
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal innovator and entrepreneur, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life. The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Mich., and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti.
IFF is a mission-driven lender, real estate consultant, and developer that helps communities thrive by creating opportunities for low-income populations and individuals with disabilities. Since 1988, IFF has provided $907 million in flexible, affordable financing to nonprofits serving a variety of sectors – affordable housing, health care, education, community development, and more. These investments have leveraged $2.9 billion, developed more than 26 million square feet of real estate, and impacted communities by creating more than 6,700 child care slots, 50,000 school seats, 370,000 new patient visits, and 10,700 units of affordable housing.