“The Frey Foundation pushes us to think bigger!” – Jane Ann Benson, director of the Grand Rapids Community College Preschool.
High-quality early childhood experiences make a lifetime of difference. That’s been the belief of Frey Foundation trustees since they initiated what would become a steadfast commitment to early childhood education and a decades long partnership with Grand Rapids Community College.
Through the years, GRCC has earned distinction for its excellent work in the field of early childhood learning. In fact, its Laboratory Preschool was one of first programs in West Michigan to earn a coveted 5-Star Quality Rating from the State of Michigan and accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
The preschool also serves as a real-world laboratory for students enrolled in GRCC’s Child Development and Education Programs. Students have the unique experience of working in one of the leading regional resources educating vulnerable young children, while earning their degree or certification in preparation for employment as directors, teachers, paraprofessionals and aides at childcare centers and schools.
For several years, the program has been housed in a nearby church basement, but despite the best efforts of staff, the once adequate space has become awkward and overcrowded, seriously restricting both the function and the capacity of the preschool program. The ideal solution was to expand into dedicated space, thoughtfully designed for early learning.
With broad community support, construction of a new best-in-class early care and education facility on the main campus of GRCC is underway. The new Phyllis Fratzke Early Learning Laboratory will increase the capacity of the College’s Child Development programs and provide more families in Grand Rapids’ urban core with access to high-caliber preschool for their children, especially those that would benefit the most. This important investment in the early development of children and their families increases the likelihood that children will be ready for Kindergarten and do well in school later on.