In the fall of 2018, El Concilio (formerly the Hispanic American Council) felt a responsibility to address a need expressed by parents within the community.
"Parents came to us saying we need childcare and we wanted to help and do more to make a positive impact on kids," said Adrian Vazquez, executive director of El Concilio, a nonprofit, community-focused organization that seeks to help Latino residents support their families. "Not only did we want a safe space where families can leave their children, but also where they can start learning more at an early age."
Through research and extensive discussion among the board and community leaders, Escuelita Nuevo Horizonte (New Horizon Preschool) was born. The school, housed at El Concilio, will serve as the only fully bi-lingual, bi-cultural preschool in the Edison Neighborhood.
Equity through education
Research shows that high-quality preschool experiences benefit all children, and children from traditionally vulnerable populations benefit most. This two-year preschool model begins to address some of the achievement gaps that exist along racial lines, addressing the root cause of educational disparities seen in later grades.
High-quality pre-K works to increase the number of children in the Latinx community who arrive ready for kindergarten, increasing their chances of remaining on track throughout their educational career and beyond. Not only are the educational needs of children addressed, but the model also meets the cultural and language needs of parents who previously have not been able to access quality preschool in their neighborhood.
"We hear our kids say they don't feel part of the community or part of this country because they are labeled Latino, Hispanic, or Brown, even though they were born here and speak the language," Vazquez explains. "We want this program to give them an opportunity to learn about their culture. We want them to be proud of who they are, where they come from, and also be proud of their community."
It takes a village
Once members of Kalamazoo Community Foundation's (KZCF) Community Investment (CI) team became aware of El Concilio's need for operating funds to open the preschool, they connected with the KZCF Donor Relations team for assistance. The CI team leverages a wide range of resources and works to share opportunities with donors that align with what they care about most.
"We identified a donor who has supported education for young children throughout the community in a variety of ways through their Donor Advised Fund," says Joanna Donnelly Dales, vice president of Donor Relations. "We felt they would appreciate learning about El Concilio's request and it didn’t take long for the donor to agree this was a perfect fit." The fund was able to cover the full amount of the request, which was slightly more than $21,000.
This success story is what sets KZCF Donor Advised Funds apart from those offered by other financial institutions. It is one of the services made possible through a team effort that makes an impact on donors as well as nonprofit partners.
La Escuelita Nuevo Horizonte is preparing to welcome 10 to 15 three-year-olds this fall with hopes of extending the program through the summer so the kids "never stop learning," Vazquez says.
For more information about El Concilio’s community impact visit elconciliokzoo.org.