Milwaukee’s Next Door renovates second center for children in Head Start program April 1, 2016

In an area where nearly 30 percent of households live below the federal poverty line, Next Door provides critical early education and parental support to families on Milwaukee’s north side.

Renovations at its second main center — a former hospital building — continue this year with crews remodeling the entire second floor. The expansion will add six classrooms and allow Next Door to serve up to 150 more children.

The center, which is large enough to help the agency accommodate over 850 children in its overall programming, opened in June 2014 with a $1 million loan from IFF. Now, second floor renovations are being made possible by IFF restructuring the balance on that loan through a new markets tax credit structure with Forward Community Investments and JPMorgan Chase.

“The support from IFF allowed Next Door to move forward with this expansion project and open in time for the first day of school,” said Laurie Oryall, Next Door’s vice president of administration. “The new expansion will help us serve even more central city children with a quality early childhood education that is so critical to their development. Research shows that we can have the greatest impact before age 6. We are grateful to IFF, BMO Harris, Forward Community Investments, and JPMorgan Chase for helping us get Milwaukee’s children ready for school and ready for life!”

As a result of its expansion, Next Door added 20 new positions, bringing the agency’s total number of full-time employees to 367. The new campus serves up to 610 children in center-based programs and up to 223 children or pregnant women through home-based programs.

Founded in 1969, Next Door is an award-winning provider of early education and family support that strives to strengthen families through education. The agency serves Milwaukee children from 0 to 5 years old through Early Head Start, Head Start, and a K4-K5 Charter school. Parenting programs, adult education, and Books for Kids are additional key parts of the mission.