Marygrove Early Education Center Opens Bursting with Education and Economics   

Marygrove Early Education Center opened its doors in September after years of development. The grand opening of the $22 million state-of-the-art early education center is housed on the campus of Marygrove College in northwest Detroit. As a part of an all-in-one campus, the center plans on adapting a holistic approach to servicing youth.  


Announcing it would discontinue undergraduate courses in 2019, Marygrove College stunned the city as the 92-year-old institution fell into a financial downturn, more than $25 million in debt. Through the Marygrove Conservatory, founded in 2018, the P-20 partnership was able to move forward to be a beacon of light in education and the economic revitalization of the Livernois area.  


First announced in 2018, the P-20 initiative is a revolutionary cradle-to-career educational partnership among the Marygrove Conservancy, the University of Michigan School of Education, Starfish Family Services, Detroit Public Schools Community District, IFF, Detroit Collaborative Design Center of the University of Detroit Mercy and The Kresge Foundation, to build an all-in-one campus to include a new K-12 school, an innovative teacher education training modeled after hospital residency programs as well as the center. Now, the dream has become a reality and the community will have a space where children can thrive, grow and prepare for a successful future.  


Backed by a $50 million commitment from The Kresge Foundation, the P-20 Partnership is one of the first in the nation. The donation signifies the largest philanthropic investment in history to a Detroit neighborhood, according to The Kresge Foundation.  The area has undergone millions of dollars in renovations, establishing new restaurants and shops, ultimately recharging the area’s economy. Establishing the all-in-one campus will help add to the flourishing Livernois neighborhood.  


“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 a new anchor for the redevelopment of the surrounding Livernois-McNichols neighborhood,” says Rip Rapson, president and CEO of The Kresge Foundation.  


Partner Starfish Family Services, a nonprofit human service agency advocating for children and families across metro Detroit, will operate the early education center. Providing leadership for the space, Starfish, together with University of Michigan School of Education, will provide a curriculum with a heavy emphasis on literacy, STEM and social justice. 


“For more than 50 years, Starfish Family Services has been strengthening families to create brighter futures for the children of Detroit and beyond. The Marygrove Early Education Center is not only beautiful, but is an innovative and dynamic space that announces to Detroit and the entire nation that every child deserves a great start to school and in life,” says Ann Kalass, CEO of Starfish Family Services. 


The center currently has 42 employees, but employment opportunities on the historic campus may expand as the full vision of the campus is rolled out. Although economic impact numbers have yet to be fully calculated, the center has been able to staff the majority of its anticipated positions.  


“I can say from an early education center, we anticipated about 45 positions … would be inclusive of the principal and the assistant principal,” says Celina Byrd, principal of the Marygrove Early Education Center. 


Further aiding to economic growth, the Marygrove Early Education Center was built by construction firm Barton Malow. Barton Malow involved the community through workforce development in the skilled trades and sourced contractors and suppliers through national, regional and local diverse-owned business groups. 


“The Marygrove Early Education Center and P-20 initiative embody the principles that run deep in Barton Malow’s culture of building people, projects and communities,” says Dannis Mitchell, director of community engagement for Barton Malow. “I believe that access to early education is critical to youth development and working with community partners to bring this project to life has been nothing short of an honor and exciting experience.” 


The Marygrove Early Education Center is open and has accepted its first enrollment class of children.  


The center is a one-story, 28,000 square-foot facility with 12 classrooms and designated spaces to focus on health and holistic child development. The Center will serve families of all income levels with children ages 0-5. By 2029, all primary and high school grade classrooms on Marygrove’s campus will be staffed and filled, giving neighborhood families priority enrollment. 

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