Once again, I’m astounded by our partners in their ability to rise to the many challenges presented by this unprecedented crisis. The scope of education and child care has changed drastically over the past few months as schools, universities, students, and families strive to find a new normal. I’d like to share three illustrations.
A couple of years after I started at ULC, the Piton Foundation introduced me to Jennifer Luke of Early Excellence, an early childhood education center dedicated to providing high-quality educational programs to the Cole Neighborhood. Early Excellence became one of the first nonprofits to move into ULC’s Tramway Nonprofit Center, and has remained there ever since. Like many other early education centers, Early Excellence has had to adapt given the current circumstances. Usually, the center has 80 students, but now only has 20 or so students, most of whom are from families working essential jobs and on the front lines. They are extremely grateful to partners such as the Buell Foundation and the Rose Foundation for sustaining their programs in this time of need, and grateful to partners like Denver’s Early Childhood Council, who have provided guidance and regulations on best practices.
Denver’s Early Childhood Council, also at the Tramway Nonprofit Center, believes all children deserve access to high-quality child care and early learning experiences. As one of the largest early childhood councils in the state, the organization’s role is to help child care providers navigate the complexity of the early childhood system so they are well-equipped to serve the diverse needs of children and families across the socio-economic spectrum in Denver.
Just three days before hosting the Rocky Mountain Early Childhood Conference, which brings in 2,500 early childhood educators and professionals from a five-state region, Denver’s Early Childhood Council made the decision to cancel the conference. Within 24 hours, they had developed a plan to provide content via virtual sessions to attendees. The organization has also transitioned all their Career Pathways and professional development training to a virtual format and has been working with providers, who have remained open, to get access to PPEs and cleaning supplies. They’ve worked diligently to find and connect both providers and families to community resources such as food, housing, employment support, and mental health services. In addition, their data team has been instrumental in gathering information needed from the provider-side to connect child care providers with families as part of the Colorado Emergency Child Care Collaborative.
Finally ULC partner, New Legacy Charter School, is a small public charter school, built by ULC and tailored to the unique and multifaceted needs of pregnant and parenting high school eligible students (male and female) and their children, ages 0-5. Located in Northwest Aurora, the school empowers students to create a legacy of education, quality parenting, and personal success for themselves and their children.
New Legacy has found creative ways to support its students in addition to their children. School administrators have partnered with Elephant Circle to provide all of their students with computers and internet access along with gift cards for food, diapers, wipes, and formula. Nearly 80% of their students have logged into Google classrooms and each day students have engaged in compelling work and assignments.
Now, more than ever, early childhood programs, students, and educators, need support with tackling new challenges ahead. ULC is honored to work with these three organizations that are easing the burden for families in Colorado.