Central Detroit Christian Community Development Corporation Early Care and Education Center

What if every family living in a low-income community had access to high-quality and affordable early child care?

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Founding Story: Share a story about a key experience or spark that helps the network understand why this project got started or a story about how you became inspired about the potential for this project to succeed.

As the Founder and Executive Director of the Central Detroit Christian Community Development Corporation (CDC), I work to target poverty and joblessness in Detroit through a grassroots movement. I live and work several blocks north of the burgeoning New Center district in Detroit. Located adjacent to the Midtown neighborhood and about three miles north of downtown, New Center was developed in the 1920s as a business hub that could serve as a connecting point between downtown resources and outlying factories. Today, New Center is developing into a commercial and residential success. From the summer-long event series in New Center Park to the growing headquarters of the Henry Ford Health System, New Center is making its mark on the Greater Detroit area. But blocks away in the neighborhoods north of New Center where I live, it’s another story. Though only separated by a few city streets and skyscrapers, this area hasn’t been able to grasp the same commercial success that its evolving counterpart has enjoyed. Rooted in chronic, generational poverty, these residential neighborhoods have more than just economic obstacles to overcome. The community’s struggles with drug abuse and mental illness are visibly prominent. The amount of tragedy and injustice has led residents to ask God, “Why?”, and I say that I don’t think it’s possible to talk about Jesus when your neighbors are hungry and don’t have a job. I truly believe long term impact happens because someone is walking beside them.

Which categories describe you? (the answer will not be public)

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French, Caucasian)



Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [State]

  • Michigan

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [City]


Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [State]

  • Michigan

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [City]


Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Over 13 million children in the U.S. today —nearly one in five—live in poverty. 2 out of every 4 African-American children are born in poverty. Only 50% of African-American and Latino American students graduate high school. By their mid-thirties, 6 in 10 African-American men who had dropped out of school had also been in prison. This data helps us understand the challenges disadvantaged children face from birth. While middle and late childhood interventions can be helpful, they often come “too little too late.” Interventions that help prepare children for success should occur as early as possible, and follow the children through the early developmental process, provide support to the child, the family system and the community, would then increase the child’s chances of overcoming the challenges of disadvantage and achieving academic, social and professional success.

In a community where quality education and prenatal care are of extremely low proportions, opportunities for affordable early child care can ensure more quality outcomes for kids and families. We want to create a unique early childhood center that is created specifically for the needs of our community members with highly qualified and experienced caregivers and teachers, healthy food and planned exercise, and wrap-around support for parents, guardians, and older siblings. The Center will be easily accessible via all forms of transportation, affordable to low-income families, and provide an intimate setting for children while also providing amenities of a larger facilities. Not only will we serving children ages 0-5 years old, we will also be serving their family members who can take advantage of the many services the CDC organization offers.

Families in the area value preschool-- 40% of the children age 3-4 years attend preschool. We have Christians and non-religiously affiliated families in the locale. Families have shared that they would welcome a spiritual focus in the preschool program, regardless of their faith. The majority of the households have a median income of $21,475 and cannot afford center care. However, they can receive subsidy assistance from the State of Michigan. A 6% subset of the market area households had Year 2010 median annual household incomes of $42,833 - $58,333. A portion of this middle-income subset can afford and purchase quality center based early care and education for their children. The Center would market to this middle-income submarket.

The Center will occupy a distinct niche. From a site perspective, it sits on a large lot. Most of the families in the market area do not have cars so they have to walk to destinations. The Center is easily accessible by foot. It can also be accessed by bus and car. There is a bus stop just one block north of the Center. The Center is also a few blocks west of the Woodward Avenue main north-south bus route. For car driving families, the Center is two blocks west of the Lodge (Michigan 10) expressway exits.

The retrofitted building will be attractive, safe and will meet the needs of CDC’s community members. As a median size ECE facility, the Center will accommodate about 63 children, a cohort size that will suit  families who want a more intimate setting. It will be an attractive option to parents and guardians that value the other amenities that the larger CDC facility also has: a large playscape, indoor gymnasium, and cafeteria, and a range of services.

CDC has always believed that while parents are a child’s first teachers, daycare and school teachers play a pivotal role in not just children’s academic development, but also in their social and emotional development. Opening a new early childhood care center allows us to provide initial and ongoing training for  our teachers in this development, which may be more important than learning ABCs at ages 0-5. This trend excites us because students sometimes spend more hours at school during the week than they do at home (taking into account sleep time, after school care and other activities that may not include parents and children together). We wish to keep up with the latest findings on how to enable teachers to be not just teachers of reading and math, but also teachers of how to interact in a community of age peers and within the greater community in which they live, and how to grow emotionally so they may become self confident and well-balanced individuals.

Is your model focused on any of the following traditionally underserved communities?

  • Communities of color
  • Low-income communities

Does your model work within any of the following sectors?

  • Childcare
  • Child and Family Services
  • Community Development and Empowerment
  • Education

Year Founded


Project Stage

  • Idea (poised to launch)

Example: Walk the network through a specific example of what happens when a person or group engages with your solution.

There are too many people like Alicia Ratliff, 39, who moved with her three daughters into a house renovated by CDC’s volunteers from Ward Evangelical. Alicia said that CDC came to her rescue when she was living in a basement with her family after losing her job. We provided Alicia with many services to get her back on her feet, but one of them wasn’t early child care for her three daughters. I see the community as a whole but also understand the plight of individuals and this drives me to continually find ways to deliver the immediate and long-term assistance needed while pairing that help with goals and expectations toward self-sufficiency. The early childhood center would put us closer to carrying out this vision.

Impact: What was the impact of your work last year? Please also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Through our education programs alone, we have impacted nearly 1,200 children and over 365 families. Highlights include providing an enrichment program for children reaching 250 students, offering one-on-one tutoring for 45 students in 1st to 5th grade logging 9,778 tutoring hours, providing a six-week summer camp for 263 children daily utilizing 14 different volunteer groups and hiring 67 teens from our community, and hosting Parenting with a Purpose programs with 107 children and 76 families. Over the coming years we hope to continue with our programs that have the greatest impact for our community, grow as necessary to meet the needs of our residents, and reflect on our challenges to ensure efficiency and effectiveness. Over the next five years, we hope to reach over 6,000 students and over 2,000 families through our programs and services.

Organization Type

  • nonprofit/NGO/citizen sector

Annual Budget

  • $1mil - $5mil

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is your solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

CDC management wants 75% of its clients to be low-resource families; and 25% of its clients to be middle-income families; therefore CDC will advertise market-rate fees. The Center will charge a market rate for its services. In years 2016-2017, the weekly full-time rates are: $225 for an Infant/1-Yr Old and 2-3 Year-Old; 4 Year-Old room is $185; 5 Year-Old Room is $185 per week. In addition, we will utilize subsidized programming.

Unique Value Proposition: How else is this problem being addressed? Are there other organizations working in the same field, and how does your project differ from these other approaches?

Detroit families need 23,239 more early care and education licensed slots for their children ages 0-5 years, according to Detroit Early Childhood Education Needs Assessment Key Findings and Recommendations published in 2014. The majority, 16,947 or 73% slots are needed for children ages 0-2 years, and 6,292 or 27% slots are needed for children ages 3-5 years. For the Middle Woodward Area, the report details that there is a 44% service gap and In the same Middle Woodward Area, the report states that for children ages 3-5 year there is a 141% service gap.

Reflect on the Field and its Future: Stepping outside of your project, what do you see as the most important or promising shifts that can advance children’s wellbeing?

Defining “child wellbeing” is a crucial step to ensuring every child experiences it. We are eager to be part of the national challenge to define it and how we may work with partners across the country to devise the best way to help all children; this work includes vital input from children themselves, something that is all too often missing in this work. We are thrilled that recent work encompasses not only the whole child but the whole family; we know a nurturing, loving and child-focused family creates the best soil in which to grow emotionally, mentally and physically healthy children.

Source: How did you hear about the Children’s Wellbeing Challenge? (the answer will not be public)

  • Email


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Michael Auerbach , we would love to provide a couple more critical aspects of the program to share with the group. What's the best way to get that information over to you?

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