From the Desk of the Director of Programs and Initiatives: Alethea Gomez
Hello Friends and Members of EPIC!
It has been bittersweet to see the snow melt away, put away our ski gear and begin to see and hear the first signs of Spring, from the occasional birdsong to tiny tulip leaves and purple flowers making themselves known as we walk familiar paths in the neighborhood.
At EPIC, we are busier than ever with the legislative session, numerous incredible community projects in early education and employee benefit development that we have the honor of supporting and guiding forward, and our pursuit of innovation and unique partnerships to develop the infrastructure of Colorado’s child care.
We have been so lucky in the first quarter to have not only completed the inaugural Employer Based Child Care Design Lab but also to support to begin to rethink the possibilities of how early education support impacts and benefits all business operations.
Read on for an update on our statewide initiative, Building Up!
A Building ‘UP-date’
The Building Up Advisory Group Kickoff Meeting was held on February 23rd, with Real Estate, Finance, and General advisors from the early child care and education sector starting the discussion around efforts to identify promising project and policy solutions to explore.
In addition, EPIC consulted with the Reinvestment Fund, a national CDFI, to compile and analyze critical financial data for the early child care and education sector. This data will be utilized for the pending landscape analysis being conducted in partnership with the Common Sense Institute to illuminate the true cost of care and challenges plaguing the child care business model.
The landscape analysis is expected to be complete by May 2022, and EPIC will be planning an event with business and economic development leaders in late May to highlight the opportunities revealed through the landscape analysis.
During the kickoff, Building Up advisory members met with group members in their prospective areas of expertise. Highlights from these discussions included:
- supporting small businesses that experience common barriers to accessing loans and other forms of financial and capital development support
- real property and business tax changes, incentivizing inclusion in affordable housing projects for land owners and developers, creating an online database to match businesses with potential real estate sites, work with the faith-based community and public entities to identify potential child care facility locations
- subsidy and fund development opportunities for those pursuing child care businesses, changes in underwriting requirements for early care and education businesses, as well the continued pursuit of loan guarantee programs to support landlords and business owners alike in the viability and sustainability of their businesses.
We have already had the chance to see firsthand prototypes and models of some of these systems and ideas, and the potential impact these can have on early education development in our communities is very exciting.
The Building Up real estate and finance groups met separately on April 11th and 14th alongside key members of our general advisory to expand on these conversations and identify next steps and promising projects and policies to explore further
We are grateful for the help and support of our funding, advisory, and facilitation partners and look forward to the exciting and transformative work the Building Up Initiative will achieve in the future.