$15M Early Childhood Education Center Breaks Ground on Marygrove’s P20 Campus in Detroit

Representatives from the Marygrove Conservancy and its partners Friday broke ground on a new $15 million Early Childhood Education center as part of the cradle-to-career educational campus at Marygrove College in Detroit. The center is expected to open in fall 2021 and serve about 144 children from birth to age 5.
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Marygrove Early Childhood Education center
The Early Childhood Education center has broken ground on Marygrove College’s cradle-to-career campus. // Rendering Courtesy of Marlon Blackwell Architects

Representatives from the Marygrove Conservancy and its partners Friday broke ground on a new $15 million Early Childhood Education center as part of the cradle-to-career educational campus at Marygrove College in Detroit. The center is expected to open in fall 2021 and serve about 144 children from birth to age 5.

The center will support families of all income levels and focus on those who live in the surrounding Livernois-McNichols neighborhoods.

“Every young person in the city of Detroit deserves a high-quality education, and that starts with providing access to early childhood education programs,” says Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. “This new educational model at Marygrove has tremendous potential and is going to be watched very closely. I appreciate what all the partners have done to create this new opportunity for the youngest students in our city.”

Starfish Family Services, an early childhood provider based in Inkster, will operate the center.

“Today’s groundbreaking may be ceremonial, but it’s also a tangible milestone for what’s to come for the children of Detroit: putting children first. The new Early Childhood Education center at Marygrove will serve precious babies, toddlers, and preschoolers along with their families,” says Ann Kalass, CEO of Starfish. “Starfish is dedicated to providing high quality educational and developmental opportunities for the youngest children, unleashing their endless potential. Equally important is offering holistic programming that connects their families to the support they need to flourish. Our approach is about the whole child and the whole family.”

Starfish and the University of Michigan School of Education are co-developing the center’s curriculum and services. The center will also provide holistic support for children and families through behavioral and developmental health services, informed trauma care, parenting classes, prenatal support, and more.

Marlon Blackwell Architects in Arkansas is designing the 28,000-square-foot space. The one-story center has an open floor plan, 12 classrooms, developmental spaces, interior courtyards, and a 30,000-square-foot playscape.

Feedback from the community helped inform the design, services, and programming. IFF, which has an office in Detroit and is based in Chicago, is the center’s developer and has provided more than $60 million in direct financing to early education facilities in the region.

Southfield-based Barton Malow will serve as the construction manager for the center and committed 20 percent of its construction spending with minority-, veteran-, and woman-owned businesses for the entire campus. The company will also employ residents through Barton Malow Boot Camp, a paid work training program for those ages 18-24, in partnership with the city’s Grow Detroit Young Talent program.

The groundbreaking ceremony kicked off the Hope Starts Here 2019 Summit, a gathering of hundreds of parents and early childhood education advocates and practitioners who support the Hope Starts Here framework for a coordinated, high-quality early childhood education system in Detroit.

Co-chaired by Rip Rapson, president and CEO of the Kresge Foundation, and La June Tabron Montgomery, president of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Hope Starts Here also announced Denise Smith as the organization’s first implementation director.

“The groundbreaking we celebrate today sends an unequivocal message that Detroit’s future will rise or fall on our ability to provide pathways to success for all the city’s children,” says Rapson. “Kresge’s investment in the Marygrove P-20 campus is predicated on the need for a full spectrum of high quality educational opportunities in the city’s neighborhoods. Addressing that need starts with ensuring quality offerings for young children as we are demonstrating today.”

The P20 cradle-to-career program designed for Marygrove’s campus was announced in September 2018 and, when operating at full capacity, will have education opportunities for students from birth through graduate school.

The Detroit Public Schools Community District will operate elementary, middle, and high schools on the campus, and the University of Michigan will send students to enrich curricula and programs as well as graduate students to complete hospital residency-style student teaching programs. Ninth grade students started on the campus in September of this year.

Marygrove College announced it would close permanently in June when it decided to cut its graduate programs. It cut its undergraduate programming in 2017 due to burgeoning debt and decreased enrollment.

More information about the program is available here. The campus is expected to be fully functional by 2029.

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