Scholten Helps Early Learning Center Apply For Federal Funding

‘This money will go a long way’: Scholten helps early learning center apply for federal funding.

Congresswoman Hillary Scholten submitted 15 local projects for Community Project Funding.
By: Lauren Edwards , Ilene Gould

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Dr. Nkechy Ezeh smiled bright when she talked about the federal funding the Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative may receive.


“Oh my lord, if we get the funding I will be like ‘Yaaay,” Dr. Ezeh said while clapping.

She said in 2018, the IFF did a study which concluded that more early childcare centers were needed. Dr. Ezeh, who’s the CEO of the ELNC at Grand Rapids Community College, agreed.

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“You know we’re asking for $400,000,” Dr. Ezeh said during an interview with FOX 17 on Friday. “I know that’s a lot but we’re talking about using this money to furnish the classrooms, to get furniture, to get age-appropriate toys for our children to make sure they have what they need to be able to come and play and participate but also to pay teachers adequate wages so they can come and do this work.”

The ELNC submitted its request through Congresswoman Hillary Scholten, who then included it as one of the 15 proposals she submitted federally for Community Project Funding.

“The Community Project Funds are a special line item allocation in the overall budget that allows individual members of congress to advocate for specific projects through nonprofits [and] local governments back in their district,” Scholten said. “Here we’re really trying to focus on projects that will do the most good in the community.”

The other projects include renovations for the United Methodist Community House, Broadway Streetscape improvements in Muskegon, the Butterworth Street Stormwater Project in Grand Rapids, a new headquarters for the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and a Youth Development Center for the Urban League.

“They represent projects from the lakeshore to Grand Rapids to everywhere in between,” Scholten said. “Projects like a new childcare facility here in West Michigan to address critical needs of childcare issues for particularly second-shift workers right here in the 49507, a district where we’re seeing some of the hardest hit impacts of the economic crisis of the last few years.”

It has been 100 days since Scholten took office. During campaign season, she vowed to help children and working families. Thursday she said it remains a top priority.

“When we’re talking about how we use our precious taxpayers dollars it is so important to me that we are advocating for those dollars to come back and do work in our community,” Scholten said. “This is not an anonymous pot of money. These are the hard-earned dollars of the hardworking families in West Michigan.”

Scholten said the proposals haven’t been approved just yet. They have to go through the House Appropriations Committee and then to President Biden for his signature.

Nevertheless, both Scholten and Dr. Ezeh were hopeful that the projects will be approved and that the money will get to the organizations soon.

“It cost a lot to run an early childhood education program and this money will go a long way,” Dr. Ezeh said. “I can hardly wait when we’re going to get it.”

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