Blue River Community Foundation: Early Learning Shelby County Announcement
Through data collected by both Early Learning Shelby County (ELSC) and Blue River Community Foundation (BRCF) in recent years, it was realized that our community was and continues to be a childcare desert. The lack of high-quality, reliable childcare, specifically for children ages infant to toddler has created a massive barrier for young families who are considering making the move to Shelby County. The situation has also resulted in a lack of availability and reliability within our local workforce. In order to better address this community barrier, BRCF and ELSC solidified a strong partnership committed to combining our efforts and resources. When Lilly Endowment Inc. offered BRCF the unique opportunity to submit a grant proposal for the GIFT VII Large-Scale Community Leadership Grant in 2018, an Early Learning Childcare facility became our top priority.
BRCF staff and Allison Coburn, executive director of Early Learning Shelby County, worked diligently for months putting together the research and supporting data for the project. Several other organizations including the City of Shelbyville, Major Health Partners, and Shelby County Development Corporation (SCDC) joined forces providing additional resources and support. MHP generously donated the land for the facility while the City and SCDC helped to build community support and financial contributions. With the support of a $150,000 grant from Early Learning Indiana, pre-development plans for the center including initial costs, renderings, and site plans, were developed and a strong application was submitted to Lilly Endowment Inc. Although the Shelby County project was not chosen as a grantee, BRCF and ELSC continued in our efforts to raise funding to bring this essential facility to our community. As luck would have it, the State of Indiana would offer an opportunity to apply for funding for the facility through their READI grant program in 2021. With a robust application already developed for the shovel- ready project, the Accelerate Rural Indiana team of Shelby County/Shelbyville, Rush County/Rushville, Decatur County/Greensburg, and the City of Batesville submitted a grant application including $50M of regional projects to help the area retain talent and attract additional workforce. Although the region did not receive the requested $50M, the group did receive funding to support $20M worth of projects with the $8M Early Learning facility included as an approved development.
The new facility will be located next to the YMCA facility on Intelliplex Dr. Once fully operational, the center will have the capacity to serve 200 children from ages 0-3. Eighty percent of brain development occurs before a child reaches the age of five and this center will focus on maximizing early brain development. The center has the immediate potential to alleviate population and workforce obstacles, but most importantly, it will significantly impact the future of the children that will attend. Bright Horizons, a national childcare provider, will be the facility operator.
Blue River Community Foundation values the passion and dedication of Early Learning Shelby County, led by Allison Coburn. We recognize that their mission aligns with the Foundation’s goal of improving our childcare circumstances as a piece of the puzzle to attracting new residents and retaining current residents by creating a better quality of life in Shelby County. In June, BRCF board members voted to provide additional support to the organization for the facility with a $100,000 pledge. Additionally, the Wortman Family Foundation for Shelby and Hancock Counties administered by BRCF committed to a 5-year, $125,000 pledge in February that was recently followed by a $50,000 contribution from the Beaty C-Tech Fund held at BRCF. The combined $275,000 contribution will support ELSC in reaching their fundraising goal of $2M, the organization’s required financial contribution to the project. The remaining $6M will be provided through the READI grant and a match from the City of Shelbyville.