5610 S. 42nd Street, Omaha, NE
Inspired by the Educare Learning Network, the Omaha Early Learning Centers (“OELC”) provide early childhood education programming to the most needy children in Omaha – a population that has grown significantly over the past decade. In the ten years ending in 2011, the Midwest saw a 40% increase in childhood poverty, the greatest such increase in the US. Studies have shown that children living in poverty start school 2-3 years behind their peers in terms a educational development, and are seven times less likely to graduate high school. Furthermore, a November, 2009 study concluded that every dollar spent on early childhood education equates to a 7-10% rate of return: poverty-stricken children that enroll in early childhood development programs are better prepared when they enter the school, more likely to graduate from high school, more likely to earn a higher wage, and are less likely to resort to public aid, or turn to crime.
In January 2014, Congress appropriated $500M to expand the number and quality of early learning opportunities for infants and toddlers through the Early Head Start – Child Care Partnerships grant program. OELC, in partnership with the Buffett Early Childhood Fund, found itself in a unique position to combat Omaha’s alarming rise in poverty by leveraging these Federal dollars into new early childhood programming. That program needed a home, though, so in mid-2014, OELC engaged Crescent Growth Capital to facilitate the NMTC-financing for two new early childhood development facilities in Omaha.
In May 2015, OELC, the Buffett Early Childhood Fund and CGC closed on a stacked $10.26M State/$3M Federal NMTC financing to construct the Gateway ELC, utilizing NMTC allocation provided by Enhanced Capital. The new 16-classroom facility will include a full kitchen and multi-purpose room, that will serve up to 96 infants and toddlers, and 68 pre-kindergarten students. The project is anticipated to create 38 full time jobs, and an additional 10 jobs for contracted service providers. Using the Educare model as its inspiration, the Gateway center will focus enrollment on the most impoverished children first, thereby maximizing its impact on those most in need of help.