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FLINT, MI. — Construction of a new early childhood education center on the campus of Flint’s Durant-Tuuri-Mott Community School began today with $9 million in support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. 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. “Flint is lucky to have local partners willing to go above and beyond to help all children have the opportunities they deserve.”
“Early childhood education is instrumental in positioning our students for success,” said Bilal Tawwab, FCS superintendent. “And Flint Community Schools is committed to building a strong bridge from early childhood education to our K-12 schools to give our students the greatest chance for success.”
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. “We are eager to share our expertise in this area, as well as our input on creating a welcoming learning environment for families, caregivers, and our youngest children.”
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.
“We decided to begin construction now, even before we have all of the pieces in place, because Flint kids shouldn’t have to wait,” said White. “While all kids should have access to early childhood education, it’s especially important to help children in Flint overcome the challenges of lead exposure.”
More information about the new center and the application process to enroll a child will be available in the spring.