Some young east side children are now part of a new early childhood center thanks to Buffalo Promise Neighborhood. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says they celebrated the opening of a second new Children's Academy at Gerard Place on Bailey Avenue, giving kids an early jump-start to education.
Three year olds gathered around their teacher inside a brand new classroom to listen to hear read Splat the Cat. There are a total of 98-children, ages six weeks to five years old enrolled in the new early childhood center. This program is free-of-charge to the families.
“When you think about early education, when you think about daycare – it can range from anywhere from $11,000 up to $15,000, so when you think about taking that load off our community here, that could be two-thirds of your income,” remarked Glenn Jackson, group vice president at M&T.
Jackson said along M&T support, the Children's Academy is supported by a $1-million Delaware North grant and a $500,000 grant from the Oishei Foundation.
“We have, through the Annie E. Casey Foundation, they actually provide us wrap-around services, so we are actually coaching parents. We have a coaching room here that’s on-site as well and we can talk about career coaching, we can talk about financial education, we can talk just at home – how to provide the best environment for education at home,” explained Jackson.
M&T invested $1.6-million to renovate an old building at the Gerard Place campus for this childcare center. The program is managed by EduKids. M&T has lead Buffalo Promise initiative for years on the city's east side. It also operates the Westminster Community Charter School, Highgate Elementary and another Children's Academy also on Bailey Avenue.
The Ralph Wilson Jr. Foundation and the Wegman’s Family Foundation also assist this program.
"It’s a long time coming. We had another Children’s Academy up the street – about a mile north where we had a wait list with over 300 students. We realized there was demand,” noted Jackson.