Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative: Building Blocks for a Brighter Future.

Grand Rapids, Mich.- The Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative (ELNC) of Grand Rapids, Michigan, a non-profit organization, has received a $5.55 million, four year grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF).  The grant will increase access to high-quality early learning opportunities in targeted neighborhoods by engaging parents and deepening partnerships with other providers and partner organizations to ensure that more children, throughout their first four years of life, are able to experience the benefits of a quality learning environment that better prepares them for school success.

“ELNC is one of the leading early childhood stakeholders in Kent County, and serves as a model for the rest of the state,” said Ali Webb, WKKF’s director of Michigan programs. “By partnering with organizations on the ground, ELNC has expanded the capacity of high-quality programs, thereby advancing and supporting the sustainability of an early childhood education system in Grand Rapids.”

The vision of the Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative is: “A community where all children, regardless of the neighborhood in which they live, are able to thrive developmentally and educationally allowing them to fully embrace their God given potential and become self-sufficient adults.”

“Five years ago, when we first proposed the concept of a place-based, collaborative model built with a “bottom-up” approach to address the problem of children without access to quality Early Childhood Education, I never in my wildest dreams imagined just how much we really could accomplish in such a short time,” said Dr. Nkechy Ekere Ezeh, CEO of ELNC.  “And to receive this second funding award from WKKF as confirmation that our concentrated intervention strategies are working, makes me speechless and that doesn’t happen very often.”

Did you know that in the ELNC neighborhood…

– 24.8% of all people live with incomes below the poverty level?
– 8.5% of infants born receive inadequate prenatal care low birthweight?
– 54.9% of infants born have moms without a high-school diploma?
– 19.4% of infants born have moms who are still in their teens?

ELNC acts as an interface between the micro system of families living within our neighborhood and the macro system of Early Childhood Education and is committed to producing outcomes that further the following core beliefs: Every child deserves a fair chance at success in school and life; The economic security of families is crucial to creating the optimal conditions through which children can develop, learn and grow; People have the capacity to solve their own problems and that social transformation is within the reach of all communities.

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