In 1998, a group of concerned citizens in Atlanta observed that more than 1,000 children in Fulton County were not being served by the Head Start program simply because space didn’t exist, and those being served were placed in centers that didn’t meet basic licensing requirements, many of which were in terrible condition. These concerned citizens decided action needed to be taken and that the private sector would play a major role. From this concern, Early Learning Property Management (ELPM) was launched and incorporated in 1999 as a 501c3 to help address facility issues. During its first 5 years, ELPM helped to re-align the Fulton County Head Start program by joining forces with the philanthropic community to quickly raise the necessary capital to renovate or build quality early learning centers to serve the facility needs of Head Start and other non-profit early care programs.
ELPM’s mission is to transform early childhood learning and development in underserved communities by building and maintaining high-quality, safe facilities, as well as enhancing existing centers. Since inception, ELPM has worked with the Head Start grantees and other non-profit early care providers to address the need for additional quality early learning facilities. To date, ELPM has purchased, renovated or constructed 15 high-quality early education centers located in Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Barrow, and Paulding counties. These ELPM centers have accumulatively served approximately 46,000+ young children and their families in licensed, Quality Rated and nationally accredited, or equivalent, centers.
Through the ELPM model, ELPM works with pre-qualified, proven 501(c)3 non-profit early care providers to evaluate their existing programs and explore available options to expand program services. Once a strategic plan is in place, ELPM implements a fund raising strategy, raises the capital funds for each project, and offers affordable long-term leases at below-market rates. Each center is operated by experienced, high-quality providers with proven, sustainable track records and steady income streams. Under the leasing terms, ELPM utilizes the rent proceeds to re-invest back into the facilities by providing the on-going maintenance and capital repairs, which allow the providers to concentrate its efforts on the development of the children rather than dealing with facility issues or raising additional funds, which would be very challenging.
The ELPM model has empowered child care providers the opportunity to deliver programs in rich learning environments that support high-quality early learning, and where children benefit from caring relationships and nurturing program staff. Quality early learning facilities have a profound impact on the young children enrolled, and the physical environment is effective in aiding children to develop, adapt and learn. Through these facilities, ELPM has directly improved the quality, efficiency, and accessibility for early learning by providing young children the opportunity to attend quality early learning centers, giving them the same opportunity as their more advantaged peers.
ELPM collaborates and works closely with funders, grant-makers, and philanthropists who share a common goal and commitment to address the issues facing early childhood learning, especially for the most at-risk. By coordinating and aligning resources through public and private partnerships, young children have access to high-quality, affordable early education, which is critical to prepare them to be ready to learn and succeed in their K-12 educational path.
ELPM has helped to build strong collaborations in the early learning arena and helped to bridge the achievement gap that starts before kindergarten. With the support and commitment of dedicated funding partners, ELPM has successfully implemented its mission to address the issue of available, accessible quality education facilities and make a difference in the lives of thousands of young children, families and communities. All children, including children with disabilities or other special needs, deserve access to quality early learning facilities and programs.
ELPM remains mission driven and focused to continue strategic discussions with potential partners for additional high-quality early learning centers in Georgia. While much work remains, ELPM celebrates the victory of enabling these young children to have an opportunity to receive the educational nurturing needed to be successful in their educational journey and become responsible, productive adults.