Kresge Foundation Kicks Off $20 Million, 5-Year Initiative To Improve Early Childhood Outcomes In Detroit

DETROIT (WWJ) – The Kresge Foundation has announced a new early childhood development effort aimed at unlocking the potential of the youngest Detroiters.

Kresge Early Years for Success (KEYS: Detroit) is a $20-million, 5-year initiative to promote the healthy development of Detroit children through investment in high-quality early childhood centers, funding of neighborhood collaborations focused on early childhood development, support for early childhood workers, and a redesign of the infrastructure that supports young children throughout the city.

Kresge Foundation President and CEO Rip Rapson says only 14 percent of Detroit children are ready for kindergarten and more than two-thirds live in poverty.

“We have a crisis that reverberates from generation to generation,” Rapson said in a statement. “We have to break the grip of this invidious cycle and provide our youngest residents with every full opportunity to thrive.”

The initiative will focus on five areas:

1. Investments in new, comprehensive early childhood centers
2. Below-market loans to improve current early childhood development facilities and to improve maternal healthcare services
3. Grants to support neighborhood early childhood collaborations and early childhood practitioners
4. Investments that draw national early childhood experience and expertise to Detroit
5. Formation of a leadership alliance co-supported with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation that will bring together stakeholders from across all sectors in Detroit to create a strategic investment and action framework for the city’s youngest children.

“We can’t do this alone,” Rapson said. “The philanthropic sector is ready to bring all who care about the next generation of Detroiters to the table to create a shared vision and take collective action to change this trajectory.”

The investments announced Thursday include:

• A $3 million program-related investment to IFF to create the Detroit Quality Fund, a low-interest loan program that will invest in viable early childhood centers that need renovations and expansions, as well as in other facilities that serve young children in Detroit and throughout Southeast Michigan. Sixty percent of the funds will be allocated for Detroit, with the remaining 40 percent available to other communities in southeast Michigan.

• A $300,000 grant to IFF to provide technical assistance and capacity building to would-be borrowers.

• A $760,000 grant to IFF to support the planning, development and design of new comprehensive early childhood centers in Detroit. Through KEYS: Detroit, Kresge plans to invest in the construction of up to three such centers in Detroit neighborhoods.

“We want big changes for Detroit’s youngest children, and the development of new early childhood centers is the first step in demonstrating, and raising the aspiration for, what high-quality early childhood practice can be in Detroit,” Wendy Jackson, deputy director for Kresge’s Detroit Program, said in a statement.

Jackson is leading the KEYS: Detroit initiative. “These centers will be multi-disciplinary and comprehensive, with health, human services, teacher professional development, and financial stability supports on site to serve the whole family in one location.”

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