JACKSON, Wyo. – Three Jackson nonprofits focused on early childhood care and education are collaborating to raise key funds for imperiled, disrupted programs that serve 88 percent of local preschoolers.
Children’s Learning Center, Jackson Hole Children’s Museum and Teton Literacy Center co-created Champions for Children. Together, the nonprofits saw the need for a collaborative fundraising initiative to fill in program needs unsupported by tuition, membership fees, government aid or other external sources. Especially with recent restrictions on gathering at nonprofits focused on educating and caring for groups of children aged 0-5.
“COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on area workforce families and at-risk and special-needs communities relying on our early childhood education programs,” said CLC executive director Patti Boyd. Children’s Learning Center provides early childhood education to about 500 students. “We need Champions for Children now more than ever.”
In normal times, the three nonprofits collectively raise $1.62 million to cover funding gaps. This year, the programs expect additional shortfalls of about $400,000 after recent restrictions and service disruptions. Disruptions that could impact the future success of the Jackson Hole community.
Rapid brain development in pre-kindergarten children makes supporting early education and care one of the best investments a community can make. Research from Nobel Prize laureate James Heckman shows that every dollar donated to early childhood education delivers 13 percent annual returns for life.
“Donations to Champions for Children empower both children and their families,” said Ethan Lobdell, executive director for the Jackson Hole Children’s Museum. “Giving a little means a lot to hundreds of pre-K children who explore and experience through the museum.”
Literacy is a crucial area where great dividends can be realized, as children not proficient in reading by third grade are four times less likely to graduate high school. This deficiency pushes a cascade of societal ills forward, making programs like Teton Literacy Center into effective building blocks for community success.
“We’re eliminating the achievement gap,” said Laura Soltau, executive director for Teton Literacy Center. The center provides 31,000 free student hours annually, affecting nearly 400 families who see universal improvement. “Without Champions, these children and their families won’t thrive in the current world.”
The Bank of Jackson Hole became the first Champion for Children with a lead $30,000 donation. Fundraising runs through July 31.