The Urban Land Conservancy celebrates the achievements of its partnerships that create and preserve nonprofit facilities and affordable housing for communities in metro Denver. ULC’s Monthly Partner Spotlight is awarded to partners who demonstrate the value of collaboration, furthering our mission to improve the lives of Metro Denver residents through our real estate investments and community assets.

Congratulations to our August 2016 Partner Spotlight of the Month: Denver’s Early Childhood Council!

Denver’s Early Childhood Council, commonly referred to as “The Council”, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the quality improvement of childcare facilities across metro Denver. While Denver’s Council serves over 460 childcare centers throughout the area, the statewide branch encompasses 58 of the 64 counties across Colorado.

Originally launched as an initiative, the Council was jointly appointed by the Mayor and Superintendent of Denver Public Schools in the early 1990’s. Fast-forward ten years, and in 2006 Colorado legislation created the Early Childhood Council as a statewide entity. In Denver alone, the Council serves over 31,000 children annually. Emily Bustos, the Executive Director of Denver’s Early Childhood Council, explained that the organization has two primary functions. The first is in systems building, and ensuring that local childcare partners are communicating and coordinating effectively. The second focuses on direct work with childcare providers to improve the quality of education for children from birth to age eight.

Coaching visit

Bustos, who is the Denver Council’s first official director, has had quite the productive year. With the final year of Race to the Top grant dollars coming to an end, a recent visit by the U.S. Secretary of Education and celebrating ten years as an official statewide organization, 2016 has been a whirlwind of excitement for the Council. On top of everything, Bustos admitted that her office is also growing rapidly, with 10 new staff members added this year alone. She explained that their current operating space, which is located in ULC’s Tramway Nonprofit Center, has provided the flexibility required for their team to grow.

“We are very fortunate to have this space here at Tramway,” Bustos said. “The ability – thanks to the low cost per square footage – to be able to actually make these changes and accommodate that growth…we feel that ULC is very supportive of nonprofits and we truly appreciate that.”

Along with their obvious growth, the Council recently hosted a roundtable discussion with John B. King, the U.S. Secretary of Education. The Secretary’s visit was due to a data integration project that the Council has been working on with Colorado’s education department. The quality improvement initiative is now used statewide by each childhood council. This, along with the final months of funding from Race to the Top dollars, led the Secretary to visit Colorado and see the progress in action. During the visit, Bustos explained that he helped showcase the work that Colorado has done to advance childhood education.

“We are really excited about all of the energy surrounding early childhood education at the federal and state level,” Bustos explained. “We’re hoping to see this continue, and hope the Council remains able to support families with young children.”

US Dept of Ed Round Table 2

Bustos explained that in order to keep the status quo, they need to look towards sustainability. The Race to the Top grant dollars come to an end at the start of 2017, and Bustos aims to ensure the Council’s success in providing quality programs for childcare centers when this funding is gone. Today, Denver boasts the highest percentage of high quality programs in the state of Colorado.  With over 31,000 children served annually, it is clear they are on the right track! Or as Bustos said, “We are ahead of the curve, yet still learning each day.”

To learn more about Denver’s Early Childhood Council, click here!