Enterprise PNW Office to Award $1M+ in Grants
During this pandemic, early learning providers in WA have faced higher levels of stress in order to safeguard the health and safety of children and staff. The constant uncertainty has called for a strong need for ingenuity and many providers have adjusted their approach to care in unique ways. Some have changed their hours of operation and availability in order to clean, others have altered their pick-up/drop-off routines, and many have separated children in the best ways they can in order to maintain social distancing. Facilities have been under scrutiny, as providers have rid themselves of furniture, built makeshift separators and classrooms, and have even improved outdoor spaces to allow for more access to fresh air. Renovating actual space has been at the forefront of pandemic response work and has proven to be a critical way for providers to maintain social distancing and safety for children. Unfortunately, not all have the means to conduct meaningful renovations, and many have lost childcare slots or worse, have needed to turn families away.
In response to these unique struggles, Enterprise Community Partners (Enterprise) Pacific Northwest decided put forward grant dollars for any Covid renovations or remodeling needs at childcare facilities. These dollars will allow providers to both address safety issues and save and/or increase childcare slots for families. We are excited to announce the award of these renovation grants to twelve different early learning providers throughout the state of Washington.
Grantees will be able to conduct renovations such as expanding/improving outdoor areas for more outdoor play, build new classrooms to increase social distancing, improve HVAC systems, and/or create classroom barriers. One recipient, the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe Childcare Center was facing enrollment reduction in classrooms, while simultaneously facing a high demand for school age care. Their award will allow them to expand classrooms, address HVAC systems, and add more infant and school age care. The Sauk-Suiattle childcare center primarily serves tribal members and now serve the greater local community as they are currently the only childcare center in the area, since all others have closed during the pandemic.
Another grantee, The New Birth Center for Community Inclusion will use grant dollars to open a new outdoor preschool program to serve low-income children of color. Located on several acres of land within an urban area, this program vision is to dismantle systemic barriers of inequity that keep historically marginalized families from gaining access to high quality outdoor early learning education experiences. Their program will open 81 new childcare slots within King County.
The Covid Renovation Grant dollars proved to be extremely sought after for many providers. In the month of open application, the grant received nearly 400 applicants, roughly about 15% of total amount of childcare providers across the state. To say the need for renovation is high is an understatement. Upon careful review the WELL Fund identified 12 programs who will all make tremendous impact with their renovations and greatly increase childcare access within their communities.
We would like to humbly thank our funders, the WA State Department of Commerce and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for making this grant round possible. We are honored to be able to provide emergency funds for providers especially in such trying times.