SEATTLE (October 27) – The Seattle Department of Education and Early Learning (DEEL) has announced more than $945,000 in awards to improve five early learning facilities participating in the Seattle Preschool Program (SPP). Investments will create new outdoor learning spaces, fund critical plumbing upgrades and support architectural design and permitting fees for the construction of a new six-classroom early learning facility in the Othello neighborhood of South Seattle. Four of five preschool providers awarded funding are operated by women of color and serve linguistically and culturally diverse students in West Seattle, South Seattle, Central District and Downtown.
As part of the Families, Education, Preschool, and Promise (FEPP) levy, DEEL’s SPP facilities funds are designed to build, upgrade and renovate preschool classrooms and increase enrollment capacity for Seattle’s nationally-recognized preschool program. Funding for preschool facilities projects is awarded annually to center, school and home-based SPP providers.
“Preschool builds a strong foundation for children to succeed in school and in life. The SPP Facilities Fund is part of our city’s commitment to ensure all Seattle children have access to exceptional early learning opportunities, regardless of family income level,” said Dr. Dwane Chappelle, Director of DEEL. “DEEL is proud to support Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and women-owned preschools with the financial assistance needed to repair and upgrade preschool classrooms, grow their businesses and serve more children through the Seattle Preschool Program.”
Since 2019, DEEL has awarded $2.63 million to 11 SPP providers to fund up to 100 new SPP seats. In 2019, when the FEPP Levy began, SPP had 20 providers, 87 classrooms, and 1,421 available seats. Now, the program has 26 providers, 128 classrooms, and 2,001 available seats, representing 82% of the FEPP Levy goal of serving 2,450 students annually. Growing the program is not the only metric of success for this fund however, and DEEL is proud that 11 grants have contributed to safety improvements, expanded outdoor play space, and other child-friendly enhancements to SPP provider facilities. Investments in preschool providers pay dividends beyond that program alone, as 50% of SPP facilities fund awardees are also licensed childcare providers participating in DEEL’s Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP).
“I am proud of our work to expand and grow Seattle Preschool Program because preschool has a superpower: it can prevent the opportunity gap before it begins,” said Council President M. Lorena González (Citywide, Position 9). “Understanding the needs and high costs to maintain early learning and childcare facilities is a critical part of ensuring access to Seattle Preschool Program. Preschool promises a lifetime of positive benefits for our littlest learners and their families. These grants meet urgent, one-time facility needs to grow SPP classrooms across the City, this means more families can unlock the many benefits of early learning.”
“We’re thrilled to have been awarded such a generous grant to upgrade and repair our rooftop playground, which will make it possible for us to provide shelter from the sun and other elements to our children when they are playing outside,” said Katrina Caron, Director of Early Learning at Northwest Center Kids’ Chinook school in Downtown Seattle. “All children need ample time and space outdoors to develop their gross motor and social-emotional skills. This playground update will benefit our inclusive school by allowing children with and without disabilities to access to a safe and engaging outdoor learning environment.”
This year, First Place Early Learning Center will be a second-time award recipient of facilities funding supported by DEEL levies. First Place Director Carolyn Brown shared, “In 2017, First Place was awarded funding that resulted in a new playground and community room to support children in all areas of development to thrive in their educational journey. This year, DEEL’s grant will build upon their commitment to the youth we serve by financing critical repairs to our plumbing system we need to keep our preschool operating safely. We greatly appreciate DEEL’s support in word and deed to our students, our teachers, and staff.”
Seattle Preschool Program providers awarded Facilities Investments for the 2021-2022 year:
Causey’s Learning Center, Central District, Council District (CD) 3 – $250,000: Planned facilities work will allow Causey’s to expand one Seattle Preschool Program classroom outdoors to enhance activities that support cognitive development including hands-on outdoor experiences, nature-based learning, and physical activities. The outdoor classroom will also serve as an additional COVID-19 safety measure.
First Place, Central District, CD 3– $75,000: Funds will enable First Place to pursue critical upgrades to the building’s plumbing system to ensure water quality meets required safety standards necessary for safe in-person learning.
Northwest Center Chinook, Downtown Seattle, CD 7– $127,370: This project will improve outdoor play space by installing new padded turf and a shade sail, resulting in a covered play space that will be accessible in direct sun and rain.
Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWa), Othello Neighborhood, CD 2– $247,805: DEEL’s award will partially fund non-construction costs for architectural design, civil, structural, environmental, electrical and mechanical engineering, and permitting fees for ReWa’s new proposed Early Learning Center at MLK. This new early learning center will provide six new Seattle Preschool Program classrooms, teacher support space, a kitchen for site-cooked meals and outdoor play area and underground parking to serve 120 children, ages 3 to 5, and their families. This facility is projected to open for preschool service September 2023.
Tiny Tots, Rainier Beach, CD 2- $249,688: This project will build an outdoor learning space, art exploration area and food garden to provide children with outdoor activities that support sensory exploration and positive development of fine motor skills. Activities planned for this outdoor learning space will include lessons about native plants and animals, nutrition, basic plant biology, and environmental stewardship of the planet and Duwamish land.
Applications for the Seattle Preschool Program Are Open Now
SPP provides free or highly subsidized preschool tuition for families of children ages 3 and 4-years old living in Seattle. SPP is offered throughout the city in partnership with community-based preschool providers and Seattle Public Schools, and provides dual-language curriculum at some sites. Enrollment is open now for the 2021-2022 school year. Parents can learn more and apply at seattle.gov/applyspp.
The City of Seattle Department of Education and Early Learning’s mission is to transform the lives of Seattle children, youth, and families through strategic investments in education. www.seattle.gov/education