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Stories of Impact



GAF Meets a Critical Need for Early Development Services in Seaside, CA

Shannan Watkins started Early Development Services, Inc. (EDS) in 1998. With a vision and plenty of elbow grease, she and her team of volunteers worked for months to transform a condemned house into her first child care center.  She opened her doors for 44 young charges ranging in age from two to five. EDS quickly became known for the high quality of its care and has since expanded to eight locations in Seaside and Monterey County with a staff of 66, serving over 300 kids each day, from newborn infants to fifth graders.  

In 2000, the State of California’s Department of Education selected EDS to provide childcare for income-qualified families. With this great new opportunity, however, came a major challenge. The State pays annually, with timing completely dependent on the passage of California’s annual budget. As EDS has grown, its operating capital needs have also grown, making it difficult to wait out the long and uncertain State payment cycle.

Watkins investigated a number of financing options to fund her working capital but none met her needs. In early 2010, she happened upon a brochure explaining the Grow Seaside Fund, the City of Seaside’s partnership with NDC’s small business loan program, the Grow America Fund (GAF).  What seemed to be a long shot when she made the call to the City turned out to be a bulls-eye.  Working with the City and Olivia Rebanal of GAF, Watkins secured a working capital loan in four months, just in time to meet EDS’s 2010 financing needs.

With her financing secure, Watkins can focus on what she does best: providing a safe and nurturing environment for the children who attend EDS centers to learn and grow. EDS continues to grow too with an on-going partnership with the California State University Monterey Bay’s Child Development Center and voluntary accreditation through the National Association for the Education of Young Children, a distinction obtained by only eight of the 144 licensed child care facilities in Monterey County, four of which are EDS locations. Watkins and her team are well-positioned to continue serving the families who depend on and trust EDS to do the most important work of all: caring for their children.