Announced at the annual Mackinac Policy Conference hosted by the Detroit Chamber of Commerce, the grants include $500,000 from Kellogg and $1 million each from Kresge and PNC to fund an expansion of IFF's Learning Spaces, a program designed to boost the capacity of and access to quality early childhood education programs across the city. Piloted in 2015 with support from Kresge and Kellogg, Learning Spaces is now part of Hope Starts Here, a joint project of the two foundations that, through a citywide engagement process, has created a framework for coordinated, high-quality early childhood systems, with a focus on quality facilities and maternal and child health.
The latest investment by the Kellogg Foundation in the initiative will provide ongoing support to up to a dozen high-quality home- and center-based early-childhood education providers, while the funding from Kresge will help fund work across the city and in the Livernois-McNichols neighborhood, where the foundation is supporting a comprehensive community development effort in partnership with the Live6 Alliance. The grant from PNC — awarded as part of the PNC Grow Up Great initiative, a $500 million, multiyear initiative — will fund IFF's efforts to improve the quality of facilities, provide targeted technical assistance, address the specific needs of providers who seek to offer extended or after-hours care, and support strategic investments in the Brightmoor area.
Since 2016, the Learning Spaces program has invested $1.1 million in childcare facilities across the city.
"Efficient lighting, upgraded heating/cooling, better security, new playgrounds — these all contribute to high-quality facilities for young children to learn and grow," said IFF director of early childhood education Monica Duncan. "But tackling facility repairs and renovations can be overwhelming for smaller providers that have few staff, small budgets, and little time to request grant funding. That's why our Learning Spaces program is such a game-changer for providers who care about quality."
"We are all united in the belief that we can give Detroit children the education that meets their needs and provides the foundation for a more equitable city," said Kresge Foundation president Rip Rapson, who spoke on an MPC conference panel that also featured Ric DeVore, PNC regional president for Detroit and Southeast Michigan; Kellogg Foundation president La June Montgomery Tabron; and Detroit Public Schools Community District superintendent Nikolai Vitti. "That means both adequate resources for every level and working together to ensure that the early childhood sector understands the needs of K-12 and vice versa. Learning Spaces fills an enormous need for early childhood providers who want to upgrade their facilities to better serve children."