Associated Early Care and Education has operated a program at the Bromley-Heath public housing development for 60 years. It serves 80 children in a basement center. This is about to change.
Earlier this month, Associated announced it is ready to break ground on a $16 million children’s learning center that is expected to open in early 2014. The innovative new center will not only serve about 175 children up to age 8, but will also offer career-focused courses for adults and programs on parenting, nutrition and financial stability, The Boston Globe reports. The early education program will operate as a lab school, and its early educators will be required to have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher credential.
Funding for the center includes $5 million in federal grants, a $1.5 million state grant, and another $11 million in philanthropic donations and financing. (Check out the Boston Neighborhood News video above.)
“This is Associated’s crowning achievement and is the result of four years of planning and dreaming with many community partners to bring our vision to completion,” Wayne Ysaguirre, president and CEO of Associated, tells me. “The center’s goal is to engage the community – parents, civic partners, service providers, neighborhood leaders, public schools, health care institutions – to take a shared interest in helping young children achieve school readiness to succeed in school and in life.”
Approximately 200 people attended the groundbreaking ceremony, which highlighted early childhood development and family engagement, as well as the inter-agency cooperation needed to transform idea to reality. Ysaguirre, Secretary of Education Paul Reville, Boston Schools Superintendent Carol Johnson, Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz (co-chair of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Education), Representative Jeffrey Sanchez, and Bill McGonagle, administrator of the Boston Housing Authority, were among those who spoke at the event. Gregory Bialecki, Massachusetts secretary of housing and economic development, announced the state grant.
“We lead the nation in K-12 education, but we have large and persistent achievement gaps,” Reville said. “Schools alone cannot get the job done. We need to start early with high-quality early education for all children.”
Representative Sanchez called the center “a catalyst for change,” the Globe reports.
“Sanchez said that when he was 4, he enrolled in the Associated Early Care and Education center in the Mission Main housing development after his Spanish-speaking family moved from New York City,” the Globe reports. “’It’s where I learned English,’ he said. ‘I hope more children who are in the same situation that I was in can access programs like this.’”