Volunteers of America’s new center in Westwood neighborhood made possible through community development funds
Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock and other officials participated in a ground-breaking event to kick off construction of the Volunteer of America’s new Early Childhood Education Center at 5000 W. Alameda Ave. Located in the Westwood neighborhood—one of the city’s highest areas of concentrated poverty—the center will more than double the number of children and families currently served in Volunteers of America’s early childhood education programs.
“Nothing is more impactful at lifting neighborhoods up than early childhood education options that provide a smart start for all children,” said Hancock. “We are honored to partner with the Volunteers of America to boost education and empower our most vulnerable populations.”
Pending approval by Denver City Council this month, the Denver Office of Economic Development is providing $620,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant funding for property acquisition and related costs associated with construction of the $3.9 million center.
Through its youth and senior programs, the Volunteers of America Colorado Branch has served southwest Denver residents for more than 30 years. Since 2001, the VOA has operated a Denver Great Kids Head Start Delegate Center, providing early childhood education to preschool children below the poverty level. The center has outgrown its current location and has a waiting list of 30 eligible children that cannot attend due to a lack of space and funded slots.
“The new facility is something we have been very excited about for some time,” according to Dianna Kunz, President and CEO of Volunteers of America Colorado Branch. “Volunteers of America saw an unmet need in this community for education and we are happy to be able to move forward with our plans to build this center for early childhood education.”
Scheduled to open in the fall of 2015, the 11,425 square-foot center will include five classrooms and is immediately adjacent to a new affordable housing community where children and families that are eligible for Head Start services reside. The center will expand the number of children served by VOA’s early childhood education classes from 68 to 170.
The Early Childhood Education facility is the result of a two-year capital campaign by Volunteers of America. Notable campaign donors and partners include the Anschutz Foundation, the City and County of Denver, Daniels Fund, Temple Hoyne Buell Foundation, Gates Family Foundation, Colorado Health Foundation, Qualistar Colorado, Kenneth King Foundation, FirstBank and Volunteers of America Colorado Board of Directors.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant program provides annual grants to carry out a wide range of community development activities directed toward revitalizing neighborhoods, economic development, and providing improved community facilities and services. The City and County of Denver receives an annual allocation of CDBG funds that are distributed throughout the community through a competitive funding process.