Kids who get an early start with education have much better chances for thriving throughout their lives. But many low-income communities in Philadelphia lack access to quality, affordable early childhood education options. In fact, only 15 percent of the nearly 100,000 early care and education seats in Philadelphia are known to be high quality.
A unique nonprofit partnership—among Philadelphia-based CDFI Reinvestment Fund (TRF), William Penn Foundation, and Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC)—is working to fill this gap through its support of Kinder Academy. Kinder Academy is a childhood education provider offering affordable, high-quality service in Northeast Philadelphia.
In September 2015, Kinder Academy, TRF, and their partners celebrated the opening of a fourth Kinder facility, which will serve 160 children in a once vacant building. The space features nine classrooms and outdoor play space in an area of the city, which desperately needs both. It also brings full- and part-time jobs into the community.
TRF provided $1.4 million toward the acquisition and renovation of the building. In addition to TRF’s financing, Kinder Academy also received support from the Fund for Quality, a William Penn Foundation initiative operated by TRF and PHMC.
“In the last year we worked closely with Kinder Academy through project planning, building acquisition, and substantial renovation to the facility. It has been an exciting process, and we are so happy to watch these projects come to fruition. Kinder Academy can now provide more high-quality programming in a community truly in need,” says Bevin Parker-Cerkez, TRF loan officer and project director for the Fund for Quality.
TRF provided a comprehensive analysis on the availability of high-quality early childhood education in Philadelphia and the accessibility of child care for families with low-incomes. TRF’s analysis was funded by the William Penn Foundation and is accessible through ChildcareMap, an interactive tool that helps identify neighborhoods where high-quality care is most scarce, and investments are most needed.
Leslie Spina, executive director of Kinder Academy said, “With ChildcareMap as a resource and support from the Fund for Quality and TRF, we were able to create a facility in a place where there is significant need.”
(Date of loan: 2015. Date of story publication: 2015)