Pierce County Connected, a partnership between United Way of Pierce County and the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation established to respond to the pandemic, has awarded the Tacoma Community College (TCC) Early Learning Center (ELC) a $25,000 grant. ELC Director Renee Hernandez-Greenfield says that the grant will help backfill the center’s pandemic-related operating costs.
The ELC in one of just four of Early Learning Centers at Washington Community and Technical colleges to remain open throughout the pandemic. TCC’s ELC is one of 22 colleges that have such centers on campus. The decision to keep the ELC open was made, in part, because the center serves the families of first responders. Keeping the center open also aligns with TCC’s mission to create and sustain equity.
“Early childhood education has been very heavily impacted by this pandemic,” Hernandez-Greenfield said. “These businesses are often minority and women-owned, and they’re often teetering on the brink of collapse, if not supported. This grant is a beautiful gift that will help us afford the good teachers we have and help us keep our children and adults safe.”
The ELC has had to drastically reduce the number of students served in order to meet recommended safety protocols. In normal times, the ELC serves an average of 72 children aged 8 months to five and a half years. Currently, 24 children are onsite, with another 22 children supported virtually.