In the wake of the Flint water crisis, community leaders, including LISC, knew something had to change: not only as a result of its residents being subjected to toxic water, but about the system failures that made the crisis possible.
One deficit that demanded immediate attention, all agreed, was the shortage of high-quality, free early childhood education in the city. So a dynamic public-private partnership, led by the Flint-based Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, sprang into action and pledged to help close the achievement gap for Flint’s youngest residents. Last year, just months after breaking ground, Flint became the proud home of the largest Educare center in the country.
Educare Flint is part of the nationwide Educare Learning Network, which includes more than 20 other schools in the U.S. and offers a systematic early education—particularly to at-risk children. The new Flint facility is enrolling 220 children between the ages of 2 months and 5 years, and through a unique two-generational approach, it also will serve parents—offering wrap-around education, job training and other resources that benefit entire families.
The facility is also creating some 80 fulltime jobs for local community members—and is giving an economic boost to the surrounding neighborhood on Flint’s west side.
LISC played a key role in the project, providing nearly a third of the project’s total $15 million cost through an allocation of New Markets Tax Credits. The $15 million Educare building sits adjacent to the University Avenue corridor where LISC has been investing in revitalization and community safety efforts for nearly 15 years.
The light-drenched, 36,000-square-foot facility encompasses a parent center, a resource room for teachers, play spaces, a STEM learning lab, and classrooms packed with age-appropriate learning toys.
In the months since it opened, Educare Flint is already having an extraordinary impact on the children and families enrolled. There is overwhelming independent data showing that Educare graduates flourish in elementary school.
But it’s so much more than that, says Cheryl McHallam, senior program officer with LISC Flint: “It sends a message to the community, and beyond, that investment in early childhood education is critical if we want our city to progress. And it lets people know that together we can change the narrative in Flint.”
Photo credit: Rick Smith
Private Sector Support
Public Sector Support
Executive Director: Chuck Vliek
111 E. Court Street, Lower level - Ste B-1
Flint, MI 48502