Partnerships lead to real improvements at a Detroit early care and education facility February 7, 2017

Tackling facility repairs and renovations can be overwhelming for smaller early care and education providers. That’s why the W.K. Kellogg Foundation is covering the cost of IFF’s site assessments for places like Pencil Palace, a 40-year-old family-owned center in Detroit that wanted to upgrade its learning space.

IFF’s assessment, coupled with renovation funding from The Order of the Fisherman Ministry Head Start (TOFMHS), resulted in renovated classrooms and kitchen space for the almost 60 children who attend Pencil Palace – creating a great space for children to learn in one of IFF’s top-20 areas in need of quality early care and education facilities.

The goal of IFF’s Kellogg-funded facility assessments is to make recommendations on early care and education facilities best practices, identify required repairs and capital improvements, and identify potential compliance issues related to the State of Michigan licensing requirements and Head Start facility requirements. This service is critical to smaller early care and education providers who don’t have the same access to grant funding as larger providers with more resources.

Pencil Palace partners with TOFMHS to provide services for children aged 0-3 as part of a Head Start Childcare Partnership Agreement. Utilizing some of its federal Head Start funding, TOFMHS worked with Pencil Palace to identify a contractor and make the necessary repairs and improvements outlined in IFF’s assessment. Nearly $100,000 was invested in the facility, including an updated kitchen, new paint and flooring in the classrooms, new windows and more.

“Pencil Palace is a family-owned business, and they were a little reluctant to work with us at first, but now our relationship is very strong. They realize we’re just there to help and support,” says Tonia Franks, TOFMHS Acting Director. “Ultimately, these upgrades are helping all of us better serve the children – especially the kitchen, which is now adequate for preparing meals for children.”