Family Night Updates March 2012
In case you were not able to make it to one of our March Family Nights, or if you did attend and would like a summary of the discussion, our CEO Ginny Trierweiler has provided updates from our most recent Family Nights on What's New At Family Star. 1. Efforts to support Family Star excellence and sustainability
a. Curtis Park renovation/ move—we spent some time on this, ran through the current schedule—the estimated move is now December and we will be increasingly certain of the move-in date as the process progresses—especially once construction begins, which is slated for September
b. Completing the infant/ toddler playground/ back yard at Northeast – this will be completed over spring break, barring a week-long blizzard
c. Leadership and culture work which is ongoing and transformative
d. Renovation at NW to make >5,000 SF of space usable for gross motor room, additional bathrooms, offices, and meeting space. I didn’t say much about this at Family Nights, but we are very excited that we will soon have indoor gross motor space for the children at both Northeast and Northwest. In addition, it will be great to have enough restrooms that staff and visitors will have a pretty good expectation of being able to use the restroom when they need it. And we will save money in terms of direct meeting space rent and in terms of lost productivity by expanding our office and meeting space.
2. Efforts to inspire a movement for excellent ECE opportunities for all
a. Growing and expanding influence because 92% of young children lack access to quality ECE
b. Far Northeast expansion – DPS and Foundation for Educational Excellence are working to establish a partnership with Family Star to establish a first of many “ECE Cottages” at Oakland Elementary School in Montbello. It’s all part of a big plan to turnaround schools and improve outcomes for children in the Northeast and Far Northeast “Children’s Corridor” where children have experienced poor outcomes for some time. The idea is to provide early childhood education services on the neighborhood school campus so that children are ready to succeed in school rather than arriving at kindergarten unprepared for learning. If they stay on schedule, this may happen even faster than Curtis Park! Though we have a lot going on, this expansion is worth our participation for several reasons—
i. The partnership and support of foundations means that we can expand our program with someone else providing the building and the furniture, fixtures, and equipment. It also means we have supporters behind us during start-up, so there is much more likelihood of success.
ii. There is interest in this ECE cottage concept becoming a national model, and University of Denver and Harvard University are already engaged to study outcomes. Therefore, it is a particularly good growth opportunity for Family Star to advance our vision of “inspiring a movement for educating the human potential.”
iii. DPS is planning to pass funding to Family Star for serving four year olds. This is important, partly because DPS is likely to get increasing funds for providing early childhood education and we want to support the approach of their passing those funds to ECE providers with expertise providing excellence early childhood education, rather than just developing more of their own preschool classrooms.
iv. As part of this developing partnership, we have agreed to work together to establish an Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) Primary Training Center in Denver. This is game-changing for Family Star, as we have great difficulty recruiting well- trained, good-fit Primary teachers. The AMI Primary training centers are in other states (California, Texas, Minnesota) and the training spans a full year or three summers, and we have not been able to afford it in the past. Establishing an AMI Primary training center in Denver will support us “growing our own,” which has been such a successful approach with our infant/ toddler teachers. This is also game-changing for Denver, which has a relatively large number of Montessori public schools and also lacks access to a strong local training program for sustaining their Primary classrooms.
c. Parent questions at Family Night –who is paying for all this?? One parent at each location asked how we can afford to do all this—getting a new building for Northeast program, expanding usable space at Northwest, and creating a new program at Far Northeast – how much we will raise tuition to achieve all this? I realized it is important to help parents understand that Family Star’s mission to serve a diverse population, including a large percentage of those in great need, and our status as a thriving nonprofit organization results in our having resources and supports that other programs do not have.
i. The Curtis Park project will cost about $925,000 to renovate, and about $1,000,000 to purchase. The funds will come from local foundations, donors, and the proceeds from selling our current Northeast properties. We will not pay for the renovation or purchase of this facility through tuition increases. Several local foundations have already indicated great support and we have already had two major donors make contributions to get this project started.
ii. The renovation of the north end of 2246 Federal Blvd building – we won a competitive grant to the city of Denver (Office of Economic Development) for federal Community Development Block Grant funds to achieve that renovation. One reason we won that award is that we said we would let other local organizations use the meeting space (evenings and weekends), so they could see that it would be available to a broader community. As with all federal grants, we have to contribute 20% of the total amount, so we achieved that funds free up through refinancing our mortgage on that building.
iii. Far Northeast – DPS will provide certain in-kind supports and several foundations are helping to launch major initiatives in Far Northeast Denver, so they will pay for the building and the start-up costs. What Family Star needs to be able to do is operate the program at break-even.