Marygrove Early Childhood Education Center Provides Transformative Cradle-to-Career Educational Opportunities for Detroit Families 

Cinnaire recently joined our partners from Starfish Family Services, the Kresge Foundation, IFF, Capital Impact Partners, Northern Trust and MBS Urban Initiatives to virtually celebrate the grand opening for the Marygrove Early Education Center in Detroit. In a first for Detroit’s children, five mission-driven financial partners joined forces to fund the $22 million center, the first New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) project in Detroit focused on early childhood development and education. The center officially opened on September 7th, welcoming its first 144 children from birth to age five.

Located at the Marygrove Conservancy Campus in Northwest Detroit, the Marygrove Early Education Center, established and operated by Starfish, is part of the Marygrove P-20 education model. The P-20 cradle-to-career model is comprised of educational opportunities from prenatal to Pre-K, K-12 to post-secondary graduate, as well as wrap-around services and community engagement programs. Grounded in social justice, equitable opportunity, and commitment to community, the P-20 model provides access to high-quality education and holistic support services to empower students and families to define their own futures and that of their neighborhood.

The Marygrove Early Education Center was financed through a collaborative partnership between Cinnaire, the Kresge Foundation, Northern Trust, Capital Impact, and MBS Urban Initiatives. IFF serves as the project developer and the nonprofit Marygrove Conservancy as sponsor/owner.

“The Marygrove Early Education Center will create extraordinary opportunities for Detroit families,” said Mark McDaniel, Cinnaire President & CEO. “A child’s early years lay the foundation for their future. Investing in early childhood education create the groundwork towards future success in school, positively uplifting communities while promoting social justice and equitable opportunities. The collaborative spirit that brought the vision of this project to reality represents the best of what Detroit has to offer – partners working together to create bright futures and empower families to be at the forefront of community and neighborhood revitalization.”

The earliest years before kindergarten lay the building blocks for success, as well as create the foundation for strong and vibrant communities. The opening of the Marygrove Early Education Center models a wholly new scale of excellence and impact to the early childhood education movement and to children and families in Detroit.

“The Marygrove Early Education Center reflects the alchemy possible when partners from different sectors join energies and resources in service of Detroit’s children. We have created an early education facility that not only offers unprecedented quality of care, but also provides an anchor for the redevelopment of the surrounding Livernois-McNichols neighborhood,” said Rip Rapson, president and CEO of the Kresge Foundation, which organized the partnership at the outset. Kresge has made a $50 million commitment to the P-20 campus, including construction of the early education center, marking the largest philanthropic investment in history to a Detroit neighborhood.

Built adjacent to the landmark Liberal Arts Building, the Marygrove Early Education Center is a single-story, 28,000 square foot facility with spacious classrooms and dedicated spaces focused on health and holistic child development. The design is centered on three interior courtyards, bringing in natural lighting and connections to the outdoors. A playscape is designed around a grove of oak trees, providing space for children to play and explore in nature. There is also a dedicated space to support the wellbeing of Starfish’s early childhood teachers and staff.

Starfish Family Services, a nonprofit human services agency, will operate the Marygrove Early Education Center in partnership with the P-2o partners, including the Marygrove Conservancy, the University of Michigan, Detroit Public Schools, IFF and the Kresge Foundation. The facility serves families of all income levels with children ages 0-5, with a particular focus on those residing in the surrounding neighborhood. Starfish Family Services and the University of Michigan School of Education created the curriculum focused on equity, social studies, and Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM). The space has been designed to be welcoming, peaceful, friendly, and playful as well as mindful, holistic, and healthy.

Photo credit: Darrell Ellis for The Kresge Foundation