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Early Learning Indiana’s Top 21 of 2021

As we begin a new year, we take a moment to look back on the many highlights and accomplishments from 2021. This year we are reminded that early learning starts with all of us. Watch our highlight video here.

1. A Path for Career Growth – We reorganized our classroom-based teams and added career pathways through a new “Excel at DEL” program to help more educators advance their careers in the early learning sector.

2. Come Back Stronger Fund – With support from Lilly Endowment Inc., we launched Round 2 of the Come Back Stronger Fund, distributing an additional $10M to early care and education programs across the state to support their increased costs due to the pandemic and help sustain their operations.

3. Build, Learn, Grow Scholarships – On behalf of the state of Indiana, we carried out the Build, Learn, Grow Scholarship Program, awarding $30,978,517 in scholarships to help Indiana families that work in essential businesses with the cost of early care and education for their children.

4. Closing the Gap Report – We published “Closing the Gap: An Assessment of Indiana’s Early Learning Opportunities” to articulate the true state of child care access across Indiana and empower communities to explore solutions to their child care gaps.

5. Closing the Gap Grants – In conjunction with the release of the Closing the Gap report, we opened the Closing the Gap Fund and issued 17 Closing the Gap grants with the support of Lilly Endowment Inc. to create more than 900 early learning seats in high-need communities in Indiana.

6. Day of Impact – At our 3rd annual Day of Impact — sponsored byQBM, Resultant and many others — over 100 volunteers completed projects across all eight Indy Day Early Learning centers, including refreshing two staff break rooms, landscaping a butterfly garden, building a music wall, painting sensory paths onto playground areas and restocking lending libraries.

7. Modernizing the Industry – We drafted an Early Childhood Education Modernization brief, articulating a vision, framework and recommendations for the future of the early learning industry, which is sparking public policy discussions with invested stakeholders all across Indiana.

8. Reimagining Early Learning – We hosted providers and community partners at an event to “Reimagine” our state’s early childhood education system following the influx of federal stimulus funding.

9. Early Head Start Grant Recipient – We won a major grant for the expansion of our Early Head Start programming, enabling us to serve an additional 75 children.

10. Two New Day Early Learning Centers – We transitioned operations of the Purdue University Early Care and Education Center and Patty Jischke Early Care and Education Center, welcoming 30+ new team members and 162 children to the Day Early Learning family.

11. Indianapolis’ South Side Expansion In partnership with Christel House Academy, we raised $1 million in grant funds to support the opening of the new Day Early Learning at Manual on the city’s south side and received a $1 million matching grant from United Way of Central Indiana.

12. Early Learning Educator Solutions – Through the support of the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, we launched the Classroom Support Work-Based Learning Program in our Day Early Learning centers, training 19 team members with credentials to advance their careers and improve their classroom practice.

13. Arago Honor Recipient – We received the Meridian Foundation’s inagural Arago honor in recognition of innovation through our Classroom Support Work-Based Learning Program. The award comes with a $10,000 cash prize.

14. Assessing Learning Success – Through the use of TS Gold assessments, we supported children in meeting or exceeding widely held expectations in literacy, mathematics and social emotional development. This initiative helps quantify the success of our mission: to ensure children throughout Indiana are empowered with essential skills to be successful in kindergarten and beyond.

15. Kindergarten Readiness Leadership – We trained 381 educators to serve as Kindergarten Readiness Indicator (KRI) assessors for the state of Indiana, empowering them to administer the new KRI assessment to their pre-K students. With the support of the Richard M. Fairbanks foundation, we also launched Getting on Track, an initiative to help children in our Day Early Learning centers build early math and literacy skills in preparation for the kindergarten readiness assessment.

16. Accredited by National Association for the Education of Young Children – Three of our Day Early Learning Centers renewed their NAEYC accreditation. We also achieved NAEYC accreditation for Day Early Learning at Eastern Star Church, officially making all Day Early Learning centers nationally accredited. 

17. Strong Finances – Despite the impact of the pandemic on reduced enrollment and increased expenses, we were able to sustain our operations while keeping our workforce intact. We are well-positioned to continue our innovative, mission-related activities in 2022.

18. Enrichment Programs – Our Spirit of Philanthropy teams supported quarterly activities for each center, including providing family and child enrichments through the Summer Gardening Program and Week of the Young Child activities, as well as Fall-in-a-Bag and Holiday week gifts for teachers.

19. Stronger Together Grants — With generous support from Lilly Endowment Inc., we selected seven organizations to receive $100,000 grants to launch regional shared service hubs around the state. These hubs will allow local child care providers to streamline their operational services, saving money and allowing them to focus their time and energy on providing high-quality child care.

20. Tanner Teacher of the Year – Day Early Learning at Fort Harrison pre-K teacher Angie Laureano was named our 2021 Tanner Teacher of the Year in recognition of her consistent dedication to her center and students over the last year, especially, and her commitment to intentional learning through play.

21. State of Early Learning — Early Learning Indiana President and CEO Maureen Weber hosted her inaugural State of Early Learning in January 2021, outlining the impact of the pandemic on early childhood education and steps to improve early learning access, affordability and quality for Hoosier families and children. Mark your calendar for the 2022 State of Early Learning on Jan. 27 at 11:30 a.m. EST. Register here.  

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