GENESEE COUNTY — Construction of a new early childhood education center on the campus of Flint’s Durant-Tuuri- Mott Community School began Jan. 23 with $9 million in support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, according to a press release. The center will serve as many as 220 children beginning in the fall.
“The Mott Foundation has long supported a continuum of K-12 education, afterschool programs, and colleges and universities in Flint,” said Ridgway White, president of the Foundation. “But we recognize that more support is needed to expand access to early childhood education so all children in Flint can have a high-quality educational experience from the cradle through college.”
The new center represents the latest effort by local organizations that are working together to expand such access. In addition to Mott, they include the Community Foundation of Greater Flint (CFGF), Flint Community Schools (FCS), the Genesee Intermediate School District (GISD) and the University of Michigan Flint (UM-Flint).
Mott awarded the $9 million grant to the Foundation for Flint, a supporting organization of CFGF. GISD will provide the educational programming, and UM-Flint will collect data and conduct research to help policymakers understand which practices are most effective at improving the lives of children and families.
“It’s so encouraging to see the way community institutions in Flint come together to more effectively meet the needs of our children,” said Kathi Horton, president of CFGF. “We’re pleased that the Community Foundation can help marshal resources and coordinate efforts.”
The state of Michigan also is playing a critical role. To help Flint families recover from the water crisis, the state has committed funding to support children’s free participation in high-quality, all-day, all-year early education programs.
“Early education services help children grow and thrive, and it’s great to see access to these valuable programs continue to grow in Flint,” said Lt. Gov. Brian Calley.
At just over 36,000 square feet, the new center will feature 18 classrooms and several community rooms designed to keep the facility in use beyond the regular school day. In addition to highly skilled teaching staff, the center will house family support specialists who will link children, their parents and other community residents with needed services.
“The Genesee Intermediate School District is proud to partner in the development of a state-of-the-art early childhood center that will benefit hundreds of students and families in our community,” said Lisa Hagel, superintendent of GISD.
As construction gets underway, White said that Mott, CFGF and others are still working to secure additional resources and bring more community partners on board.
More information about the new center and the application process to enroll a child will be available in the spring.