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Building Stronger Centers Through the Children’s Investment Fund

The Children’s Investment Fund (“the Fund”) offers technical assistance, training and financial support to non-profit early education and care (ECE) and out of school time (OST) programs across Massachusetts. In late May, the Fund administered the tenth Building Stronger Centers Training Institute (BSC), a comprehensive four-day program for ECE and OST providers.

31 participants from 11 organizations attended BSC in sessions exploring financing, organizational development, project management, design, and other considerations behind successful management of a significant capital development project. BSC delivers comprehensive guidance in the earliest stages of the development process, helping providers transform and create safe, high-quality facilities that promote the physical well-being and educational growth of the children they serve.

BSC brought together leaders of organizations planning a major facility renovation or expansion project to explore the factors behind successful projects. Participants gained the resources and skills needed to develop capital and operating budgets in depth, access professional expertise, design high-quality spaces, and learn from other providers, architects, and professionals about how the process of undergoing a major construction project impacts an organization and its management.

BSC introduced participants to every stage of the planning process, with each day covering specific topics and goals as follows:

  • Day One: Conceptual Planning & Early Feasibility, with sessions ranging from the development process to collaborative planning and strategic thinking, understanding the roles of development team members and managing consultants, and offering providers confidence in their own ability to move a project forward.
  • Day Two: Financial and Organizational Readiness, including a review of each organization’s financial statements and information on the various types of funders available for capital projects. That evening, participants attended a Design Clinic, where they created design boards that included pictures, blueprints, and other components of their proposed projects.
  • Day Three: Financing & Design, with sessions such as building a capital campaign, assembling capital funding and financing resources, managing the construction process, and reviewing key design features for ECE and OST. At the end of the sessions, participants shared their design boards at a Design Charrette, where 17 architects from 9 firms – all experienced in ECE and OST facilities – reviewed each board, offered feedback, and exchanged contact information.
  • Day Four: Managing the Development Process, including a site visit to Beverly Children’s Learning Center, which provided participants the chance to tour a high-quality early childhood education and care program serving children ages one month to fourteen years. The project was made possible in part by acquisition and predevelopment loans from the Fund and was one of the earliest recipients of funds from the EEOST Capital Fund. Participants met with program staff to discuss the construction process and regulations and approvals required to bring a project to successful completion.

Each day of training also included interactive activities and discussions for participants, allowing everyone involved to not only apply learnings to their own organizational needs and project goals, but also to make connections with consultants in the field. As one participant commented, “I am so glad you are providing this training. It is great to know that people will have the tools to develop, design, and dream of new centers in Massachusetts.”

Thank you to the Klarman Family Foundation for funding this training. Thank you also to the presenters who led comprehensive, engaging sessions at BSC and to the architects who provided project feedback. And, of course, all of this would not have been possible without the participants who attended the training and, more importantly, remain committed to providing high-quality learning opportunities in their communities.

ECE and OST providers are encouraged to contact the Fund team for further information on future trainings or opportunities for your own centers. You can also read more about the Fund’s financing and technical assistance services.


The Children’s Investment Fund is an affiliate of the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation (CEDAC). Tess Carenbauer recently joined CEDAC as the Public Relations & Marketing Associate. Her role supports the Fund’s communications and outreach efforts.

Categories: CEDAC, CIF

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