Educare Los Angeles at Long Beach, an early childhood education center on the Barton Elementary School campus, celebrated its grand opening this month. The ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the fruition of a project that began with an anonymous donation of $7 million followed by matching funds, all managed through a public-private partnership.
“I’ve been a part of a lot of public-private partnerships. I’ve never seen one this good,” said David Rattray, Executive Vice President of the Center for Education Excellence and Talent Development at the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.
Rattray was among several representatives of partnering agencies to address the audience at the event, which included a performance by Educare students. The new facility opened in July and is already serving nearly 160 students, but the ribbon-cutting made the school’s opening official. During the ceremony, other preschoolers frolicked as usual in their colorful and spacious outdoor play area, blowing bubbles and riding tricycles around a curved, kid-sized roadway.
The school serves as a regional hub for early learning professional development, demonstrating how programs can use evidence-based approaches to provide quality early childhood education for low-income families. A dual-language learning program serves as a model for other early childhood programs and connects to related programs in K-12 schools in the Long Beach Unified School District. As an Educare network school, Educare Los Angeles at Long Beach also will help drive change in early childhood policy and practices statewide to increase access to high-quality early education for all children.
“We’re opening the best early childhood education center in all of California,” Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said, crediting the school district’s leadership. “For Long Beach, this is a very special moment, and we couldn’t be more excited.”
The North Long Beach school is the 22nd Educare school in the United States and serves children during their first five years to prepare them for success in school and life. The school includes parent and resource centers to educate family members on how to support their children before they enter kindergarten.
“The tremendous amount of detailed research by Educare has proven how we can all make a difference in our children’s lives by ensuring they have access to high-quality education as early as possible,” said Maria Harris, the school’s principal. “Educare Los Angeles at Long Beach is an extremely valuable asset to our community, and I know our work here will have a positive impact for years to come.”
The 32,000 square-foot campus includes 16 classrooms, age-appropriate outdoor play spaces and a two-story main building with a multi-purpose room, staff training room, parent resource room and conference room.
The new school was formed in partnership with the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and UNITE-LA, LBUSD, the Long Beach Education Foundation, LA Partnership for Early Childhood Investment, The Advancement Project, Buffett Early Childhood Fund and Ounce of Prevention Fund.
The school also was made possible by The Ahmanson Foundation, Andeavor, Annenberg Foundation, Marilyn Bohl, California Community Foundation, First 5 CA, First 5 LA, Roy & Patricia Disney Family Foundation, Rotary Club of Long Beach, Steve Nash Foundation, Kaiser Family Foundation, W.M. Keck Foundation, Matson, The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, Stein Family Fund, Dr. Mike and Arline Walter, The Harry & Jeannette Weinberg Foundation, and The Home Depot.
Addressing the audience were several funders, elected officials and others, including Patrick O’Donnell, who represents Long Beach in the State Assembly; Megan Kerr, LBUSD Board of Education member; Al Austin, Long Beach City Council member; Cynthia Jackson, executive director of the Educare Learning Network and senior vice president of the Ounce of Prevention Fund; Arline Walter, sponsor; Wendy Garen, president and CEO of the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation; Kim Belshé, executive director of First 5 LA; Katrina Perry, Educare lead teacher; and Jacqueline Villegas, Educare parent.