New grant aims to bring programs like arts and nutrition to Detroit preschools and childcare facilities

Half a year after unveiling an ambitious $50 million effort to improve the lives of young children in Detroit, the foundations behind the Hope Starts Here initiative have started to spend some money to put their vision into action.

The Kresge Foundation Thursday is announcing plans to spend $3 million to fund organizations that support preschools and childcare centers in Detroit. That includes groups providing things like healthy eating programs and arts or cultural programs that could improve the offerings at local preschools.

Kresge is inviting organizations to apply for up to $300,000 over three years for services that will support licensed childcare facilities.

The funds are one strategy to address a critical shortage of quality early childhood facilities in Detroit where an estimated 28,000 young children don’t have access to quality care.  

Michigan has one of the lowest reimbursement rates for childcare providers in the nation, which makes it difficult for providers to make ends meet, let alone offer things like cultural activities or social and emotional support to the children they care for.

The foundation aims to “change the culture and reality of the early childhood systems in Detroit,” Wendy Jackson, Kresge’s Detroit program managing director, said in a statement.

The investment is one of the first Kresge has announced from its commitment to Hope Starts Here, which is an ambitious partnership between Kresge and the W.K. Kellogg foundation to improve the health and education of children ages birth to 8 in Detroit. (Kresge and Kellogg also support Chalkbeat).

Kresge and Kellogg formally announced the effort late last year following a year of meetings with Detroiters to determine the needs of young children. Each committed $25 million to the effort for a total of $50 million.

The $3 million program announced by Kresge Thursday is the largest it has announced to date toward its $25 million commitment.

One of Kellogg’s first investments, announced earlier this spring, was a $3 million grant to the Detroit Public Schools Foundation to fund a parent academy in the main Detroit district, a kindergarten “boot camp” to help get young children ready for school and a home visit program that sends teachers and principals into student homes.