Amplify GR and the Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative Partner to Strengthen Neighborhood Through Education

Amplify GR and the Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative
Partner to Strengthen Neighborhood Through Education

Collaboration Developed to Bring New Early Childhood and Family Support Center to Boston Square

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (January 2, 2020) –Amplify GR is partnering with the Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative (ELNC) to build a new 12,000 square foot early childhood education and family support center in the heart of the Boston Square neighborhood. The center will serve young children from six months to five years old and provide education, health services, and holistic support for families. The anticipated completion of the project would be fall of 2021.

For years, Dr. Nkechy Ezeh, a longtime Grand Rapids leader and founder of the ELNC, has advocated for greater access to early childhood learning to support young children across the community. Serving children and families since 2011, ELNC is a manifestation of Dr. Ezeh’s passion to prepare future generations and equip parents to be their children’s first teachers.

“My heart is full because this opportunity is close to home for me,” said Dr. Ezeh. “We will finally get the chance to create a new center for children and families to grow and learn in my own neighborhood and community.”

IFF, a mission-driven lender and real estate developer, is working with ELNC and Amplify GR to develop the facility. The nonprofit agency has consulted on the creation of more than 170 early childhood education facilities across the region, supporting the creation of more than 5,000 early education slots. Additionally, IFF has provided more than $60 million in direct financing to early education facilities in the region.

IFF’s 2018 research study assessed the supply and demand for early childhood education and childcare in Grand Rapids, finding that only about half of the 12,000 kids in need of care were able to access it – and that about two-thirds of that need existed in just one-third of the communities. The Southeast End area ranked in the top 10 for overall need.

In addition to supporting the ELNC in achieving its mission, it is Amplify GR’s goal to further strengthen neighborhoods by ensuring access to an excellent educational pipeline for children and families, that beginning with quality early childhood education that prepares children for success throughout their academic years. This comes with the understanding that cultivating the well-being of families and supporting them across their lifespan is among the most powerful ways to position children and families to reach their potential and contribute to their own communities.

“When people in our community look at our new early childhood and family support center and recognize the investment has been made for nearly 100 children to learn, grow, and be supported yearly—it is going to speak volumes,” said Ashanti Bryant, education director for Amplify GR. “We are grateful for the alignment in vision between Amplify GR, ELNC and IFF to make this a reality for so many young children and their families.”
In addition to the services the center will provide, it is expected that it will also bring up to 20 new jobs to the Boston Square and Oakdale area.

About ELNC

The vision of the ELNC is to build 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.

About Amplify GR

Amplify GR seeks to widen pathways so that more residents can participate and benefit from neighborhood growth in the Boston Square, Cottage Grove and surrounding areas. Through partnerships with residents, businesses, community organizations and funders, Amplify GR works in four areas of impact: jobs and entrepreneurship, housing, education and community wellbeing.

About IFF

IFF is a mission-driven lender, real estate consultant, and developer that helps communities thrive by creating opportunities for low-income populations and individuals with disabilities. Since 1988, IFF has provided $907 million in flexible, affordable financing to nonprofits serving a variety of sectors – affordable housing, health care, education, community development, and more. These investments have leveraged $2.9 billion, developed more than 26 million square feet of real estate, and impacted communities by creating more than 6,700 child care slots, 50,000 school seats, 370,000 new patient visits, and 10,700 units of affordable housing.

Elise Pelletier