Early childhood education has been in the news in the past few weeks. An organization, I work with and have served as a volunteer for helps to fulfill the promise of early childhood education for children who most need it - those in the south city area of St. Louis.
SouthSide Early Childhood Center relies on volunteers and contributions and is excellent place for teens to learn about working in a community setting. Tim Burke, who works for Edward Jones in Des Peres, has been an active volunteer, running 146-mile ultramarathon in Death Valley last summer - which was featured on PATCH - to build awareness for the project. Burke continues to run for the kids of SouthSide!
Next week SouthSide has some exciting news!
A new education center and community hub has been announced by SouthSide. Groundbreaking ceremonies for a $3.5 million new early education and child care center in south St. Louis will be held on February 28 at 3 p.m., and will feature children with colorful shovels; Mayor Francis Slay; Thomas Voss, Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer, Ameren Corporation; and other VIPS. Completion is projected for early 2014. The new school will be only the third building occupied by the agency in its 127-year history.
“Our new school will expand our services to more children and families and provide much-needed space that enhances our excellent program. Early childhood education builds the best foundation for future success, especially for children living in poverty. We will build on our success in serving families through our quality early education and early interventions for at-risk children in an inclusive environment, and provide parent support and adult education opportunities for our families, as well as for the community at large. We are grateful to Tom and Carol Voss for their role as honorary chairs of the campaign,” said Anne Kessen Lowell, SouthSide’s Executive Director.
“Early childhood is critical to preparing our future workforce and we are proud to serve as a lead donor for this important community project. This school will transform the future for children through quality early education, and will also transform an entire City block on Jefferson Avenue, very close to our headquarters,” added Thomas R. Voss, Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer, Ameren Corporation. Ameren's support has been critical to the effort.
Designed by Oculus, Inc. – a leader in childcare facility design based in St. Louis, the new 19,000 square-foot SouthSide building will include: an early childhood education facility on the first floor – including ten classrooms, an interior gross motor room, resource library for parents, and a “kids’ kitchen” where children can learn about health and nutrition, prepare food from the preschool garden, and conduct cooking projects with teachers. Second floor space will feature administrative offices and state of the art meeting and conference room space for parent meetings, teacher training and for community meetings. Rhodey Construction, Inc. will serve as the construction manager.
In addition to Ameren, the new facility has been generously supported by early gifts from Emerson, Edward Jones, Centene Corporation, Maritz, Nestle-Purina as well as foundations, including Bellwether Foundation, William T. Kemper Foundation, Trio Foundation, Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis, Philpott Family Foundation, The Crawford Taylor Foundation, Dana Brown Charitable Trust and a challenge by The J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation which was met seven months ahead of schedule. Support from the Deaconess Foundation was critical to the capital campaign and pre-development work.
Also, the City of St. Louis has announced a recent gift of $100,000 through the Community Development Block Grant Program. Certain project costs have been underwritten by the Missouri Department of Economic Development, Neighborhood Assistance Program and the taxpayers of the State of Missouri.
Generous individuals also have stepped forward, including Dave and Thelma Steward, Board members and former Board members, and many other gifts ranging from $100 to $350,000 from an anonymous donor. The general campaign has been headed by Keith Jacob, President/Chief Executive Officer, St. Louis Staffing.
In a powerful display of individual commitment, last summer, SouthSide board member and Kirkwood resident Tim Burke completed a 146-mile ultra-marathon in Death Valley to raise money for this project. He chronicled his efforts at http://1inspiredidiot.com and inspired hundreds to contribute to the project.
Funding Still Needed
$500,000 is still needed to help finish the facility and include: a playground, state-of-the-art technology throughout, outdoor classrooms and a top notch security system. The public may join in the effort by donating on-line at: http://bit.ly/Donate2SouthSide Any size contribution is welcome!
About SouthSide Early Childhood Center
SouthSide’s mission is to nurture, educate and inspire children and families with limited resources, fostering healthy development and a strong foundation for success. Our vision is that children love to learn, live purposeful lives, and contribute positively to their communities. SouthSide continues the vision of its founders. Thousands of children have passed through its doors since its founding in 1886. At SouthSide, children are lovingly cared for, educated, and launched toward success.
Currently, the agency serves 98 children and their families each year and will have room to grow to 140 in the new school. SouthSide provides exceptional childcare and early education, family and parenting support services, and early intervention for children with disabilities and mental health challenges. SouthSide transforms the future for children from all walks of life by building a foundation for academic and life success. South Side Early Childhood Center, formerly SouthSide Day Nursery, is a proud member of the United Way of Greater St. Louis. SouthSide is currently located at: 2930 Iowa Ave., St. Louis, 63118. SouthSide can be reached at: 314/865-0322 or on-line at: