The Power of Education – Tanaina Child Development Center

The Power of Education –
Tanaina Child Development Center’s Student Child Care Assistance Fund and Child Development Fund

Submitted by Leslie Need

A few months ago I sat down to do my normal skimming of the NY Times headlines. This one caught my eye: Why These Kids Get a Free Ride to College. The article describes the events which followed this announcement:

“Back in November 2005, when this year’s graduates were in sixth grade, the superintendent of Kalamazoo’s public schools, Janice M. Brown, shocked the community by announcing that unnamed donors were pledging to pay the tuition at Michigan’s public colleges, universities and community colleges for every student who graduated from the district’s high schools. All of a sudden, students who had little hope of higher education saw college in their future. Called the Kalamazoo Promise, the program — blind to family income levels, to pupils’ grades and even to disciplinary and criminal records — would be the most inclusive, most generous scholarship program in America.”

The story is incredible. Compelling. And it’s based on this simple premise: education is the key to building and sustaining a community. Both economically and socially. Academically and spiritually. People who have access to education have access to better jobs. Communities who have an educated workforce are more attractive to businesses and therefore more economically vibrant. Economically vibrant communities are better places to live. Families that have access to education are stronger and more stable.

It all starts with education.

So how does the Women’s Giving Circle fit into this education equation? Here’s how: we do our part to contribute to our community’s education through the Tanaina Child Development Center’s Student Child Care Assistance Fund and Child Development Fund.

The Tanaina Child Development Center is an early childhood education facility located on the campus of the University of Alaska Anchorage. The Center has provided quality childcare and education since it opened in 1979. Widely recognized for its excellence in early childhood education, the Center also provides a unique service for the parents who are students attending UAA: childcare scholarships. The Child Care Assistance Fund, housed within the UA Foundation, allows parents, mothers and fathers, to pursue their education while ensuring their children are in a safe, creative and supportive environment.

Former Executive Director Troy Bowler had this to say about the Center:

“As an on-campus childcare program, Tanaina is positioned at the intersection of two of the most powerful, cost beneficial, engines to our economy – higher eduction and quality childcare. Studies are clear: Children generate $3 to $7 for every $1 invested in quality care. They are retained in grade less often, need less special education, fewer social services and graduate more often. They have significantly enhanced lifetime earnings, lower rates of unemployment, fewer teen pregnancies, lower crime rates and fewer incarcerations. Public assistance recipients who attend college are significantly more likely to leave welfare permanently. Graduation rates of student parents with childcare are higher. They are more likely to remain in school, graduate in fewer years, have a higher grade point average and demonstrate higher rates of persistence when children are cared for and educated in a quality campus-based children’s program.”

The Tanaina Center strives to provide a calming, home-like and independent learning-focused educational center. The Center works to bring nature into the facility by incorporating natural products in furniture and learning tools, cooking meals for students in-house with natural ingredients, and growing much of their own vegetables in the Center’s garden. But, these practices are expensive, especially on the tight budget of a non-profit organization.

Outside of its commitment to the children who attend the Center, Tanaina gives back to our community by serving as an educational center for current UAA Students. The Early Childhood Education program sends students to shadow teachers at Tanaina – currently Tanaina hosts 4-6 UAA Early Childhood Education students each day. Additionally, the Pediatric Nursing Program within UAA’s College of Nursing, is working to collaborate with Tanaina on upcoming projects for nursing students.

Over the past year, the Tanaina Center lost over $11,000.00 in needed income because many low-income parents were unable to pay tuition for their children. With a total operating budget of only $500,000.00, this loss significantly effected the Center’s ability to fund the essentials (like staff salaries), let alone needed improvements. Tanaina anticipates the number of families needing childcare assistance will only increase in 2013.

And, we can help! By contributing to the Center’s Student Child Care Assistance Fund, the Alaska Women’s Giving Circle will help kids and families in Alaska. Parents are able to pursue an education that unlocks a future of better and more fulfilling careers. Children witness the positive impact of education. They are inspired by their mother or father. The cycle begins. And, by contributing to the Child Development Fund, the Center can begin to afford much-needed upgrades to furniture and educational tools.

Now, onto the details.

Name of Nonprofit organization:  Tanaina Child Development Center – Student Child Care Assistance Fund and Child Development Fund

Tanaina is a private, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, incorporated in 1979.  Tanaina is legally independent of the University of Alaska Anchorage but is housed on the UAA campus and has a particular mission to serve the young children (18 months-5 years) of UAA students, faculty, and staff.  The children of other members of the Anchorage community are also welcome as enrollment allows.  A summer program for school-age children is open to children of post-kindergarten 5 years old through 10 years old.  The Center serves 71 children; 12 of the families receive day care assistance based on financial need and 21 parents earn income below 130% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines; 69% of the children enrolled in the Center have parent(s) who are current UAA students.

Project Name: The Power of Education – Tanaina Child Development Center’s Student Child Care Assistance Fund and Child Development Fund

Your Name: Leslie Need

Proposed Gift:  A financial contribution of $15,480.00 and a commitment of 20 hours of volunteer time in 2013.

Amounts Requested:  Totaling $15,480.00

  • $15,000.00 for the Tanaina Child Development Child Care Assistance Fund: This amount will provide $500 per semester for 15 families exhibiting financial need for 2013.  It will also ensure that the Tanaina Center will not lose critical revenue due to unpaid tuition bills.
  • $480.00 for the Tanaina Child Development Fund: $100.00 for supplies to complete the Center’s cold frame garden box (to extend the season for fresh home-grown vegetables); $180.00 for the Complete Set of Easy Does it Furniture (to replace worn-out reading furniture); and $100.00 for two (2) sets of Magna Tiles learning tools (to facilitate visual-spatial and tactile learning for all age-groups).

(Note: Any financial support by the Giving Circle is much appreciated, regardless of the amount.)

Volunteer Opportunities:  Suggested donation of 20 hours in 2013.

  • In addition to financial support, the Tanaina Center is in need of volunteer support too!  Giving Circle members have the opportunity to pledge volunteer time to help with the Parent & Teacher Resource Library; repair and general maintenance on the playground equipment; and parent-teacher event planning (and many other volunteer activities).

The Women’s Giving Circle has the opportunity to directly impact the health and welfare of families in Alaska.  I ask that you choose to support the Tanaina Child Development Center as part of our commitment to our community.

In case you still aren’t inspired, just listen to and look at this…


Leslie Need

P.S.  Your feedback is important!  Please email me with questions/concerns: