We don’t often think of what we do as child’s play, but the work we did recently with one of our community partners, Puget Sound Educational Service District (PSESD) in the State of Washington, brought us close. PSESD asked NDC to help them create an important new facility in the community of White Center to house a nationally recognized educational program for infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers. White Center is an unincorporated community bordering Seattle, and boasts one of the most ethnically and economically diverse populations in the area.
In late March, the community celebrated the opening of the Educare Early Learning Center, a collaborative effort of the White Center Early Learning Initiative, Thrive by Five Washington and PSESD. NDC’s role, much earlier in the process, was to provide technical assistance in a complex financial structuring, using New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC) from the King County Housing Authority, as well as state and federal grants. NDC Field Director, Chuck Depew, provided guidance on creating the right structure and on the regulatory, legal and financial processes required for the NMTC and the grants, and worked with investor USBank (who also made a loan to the project), and lender Shorebank to ensure that their requirements were met.
Educare will provide full-day, full-year preschool and child care for 32 infants and toddlers and 102 preschool children ages three to five. It also makes available additional programs that provide services and support to parents and professional development opportunities for early learning providers.
The new learning center – part of a network of ten similar centers across the country – is supported in part by grants from Thrive by Five and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It will serve as a pilot project to test new approaches to early learning. If the program is considered successful, the goal is to eventually replicate what is learned in the White Center project statewide.
The 44,000 square-foot building is LEED Certified for its environmentally positive design.