The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) is the nation’s leading community development organization and specializes in building partnerships among the corporate, philanthropic, and public sectors to support grassroots community revitalization. Created in 1980, LISC has offices in 30 cities and numerous rural locations nationwide. The Rhode Island office opened in 1991. LISC’s national child care program, the Community Investment Collaborative for Kids (CICK), was created in 1995 to improve the quality and expand the supply of child care in low-income communities through new investments in physical facilities.
Recognizing that child care providers need additional support to address facilities issues, LISC in collaboration with a coalition of public and private funding partners, formed the Rhode Island Child Care and Early Learning Facilities Fund (RICCELFF) in 2001. RICCELFF makes low-cost loans, awards grants, and delivers training and technical expertise. The technical assistance includes site analysis for new facilities, project planning, and design and implementation advice for rehabilitation or construction designed to improve health, safety, accessibility, energy efficiency, and quality conditions in child care facilities. LISC also provides technical assistance on the financing of these facility improvements and can help to structure fundraising campaigns, debt financing, and equity investments to implement design plans. Since inception in 2001, the RICCELFF has invested more than $20 million in child care facilities across Rhode Island. Technical support has been offered to more than 200 organizations and hundreds of early childhood professionals have participated in RICCELFF training programs.
The quality of your space can either significantly enhance or inhibit the quality of your program. Space has the ability to provide a sense of community, well-being, and belonging to all the people – large and small – who enter it. Very young children are particularly influenced, either positively or negatively, by the environment around them. This is why child care facilities play an especially critical role in offering environments that support children’s learning and development. And even small improvements to a space can have a positive impact.
There are subtle changes that can dramatically improve an environment – adding more natural light, including varied artificial light, improving acoustics, adjusting the climate for comfort, changing colors and textures, adding appropriately scaled elements, rearranging space – all things that make the surroundings a sensory experience. With budgets continually constrained it becomes even more important to think thoughtfully about small-scale, low cost improvements.
At this time the RICCELFF is seeking a small group of child care providers from across Rhode Island to participate in a pilot project to help develop, design, and implement small-scale changes to infant and toddler interior classroom spaces. This project will focus on strategic space planning in one classroom at each program to promote increased and enhanced interaction between children, children and their teachers, and children and their physical environment. As a participant in this program you will receive, at no cost to your operation, a conceptual space design plan, technical support in strategizing how to implement the plan, and anywhere from $500 to $2,500 to support the implementation of some of these small scale strategies in your infant or toddler classroom. As part of this project you will receive:
- A site visit and brainstorming meeting with the program director and other key staff for input on needs and concerns for your infant and toddler classroom space.
- Photographic documentation, rough field measurements, and a sketch of the classroom space to be improved.
- A conceptual sketch plan of the classroom to include the proposed design “interventions”
- A private grant in the range of $500 – $2,500 to help build out some of the proposed “interventions.” (Award amount will be dependent on classroom size and scope of project.)
- On-going on-site technical assistance to develop a plan and process for completing interventions, including potential volunteer “days of service” and/or assistance in coordinating volunteer “days of service.”
- Assistance in developing a fundraising plan for any financial needs that exceed the grant award.
- Public recognition of your participation in the project to other funders and state leaders.
|This Project is for you if:
||This Project is NOT for you if:
|You are willing to change your physical environment
||You like the way things currently are do not see the need for change in your space but would like some grant funds
|You and your teachers are willing to try new things
||You are risk averse
|You are willing to let visitors tour your program to observe the “interventions”
||You do not want people visiting your program
|You are interested in making small scale improvements to the quality of your classroom regardless of whether or not the improvements would have a direct impact on things such as a BrightStars rating or ECERS score
||You are solely interested in increasing your BrightStars rating or ECERS score
|Your classroom is generally safe
||You have major health and safety issues you are working to address in your classroom
|You have staff and/or parents who would be able and willing to help build and create things, help fundraise, and would get excited about a new adventure
||You have limited ability to engage volunteers
|You can demonstrate prior success in carrying out a facility related project, and with raising and allocating the funds needed to successfully complete projects.
||You have limited ability to allocate resources (time or money) to this project and limited ability to engage the community
|You are excited at the idea of trying something “outside the box”
||You do not have a staff person you can assign to lead this project
The plans and interventions developed as part of this project will be featured in training sessions as well as publications. Programs selected will be highlighted throughout a variety of media.
Designs and drawings will be done by LISC’s consulting architect, studioMLA (www.studiomla.com). studioMLA is widely considered one of the leading architectural firms in the field of child care and educational design.
Mike Lindstrom, AIA, LEED AP, is the founding Principal of studioMLA Architects. As one of the leading architects in the field of early childhood facility design, Mike, along with the late Jim Greenman, led the annual Child Care Design Institute at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Mike has served as an advisor to the American Academy of Pediatrics on Child Care Center Design and has extensive experience with the complex design, regulatory, and construction processes inherent in creating children’s environments. Most recently Mike edited the newly updated and released book Caring Spaces, Learning Places: Children’s Environments that Work.