From the Desk of the Director of Programs and Initiatives: Alethea Gomez
Perhaps your family was watching alongside mine and many others around the world as Winter Olympians from around the globe (some hailing from Colorado!) competed on the world’s biggest sports stage. It is incredible to think about the dedication and willingness to push the boundaries required to reach a level where you serve as the example of excellence for all others.
EPIC is dedicated to working with our membership and a wide range of partners to push the boundaries and engage in legislative and community efforts that embrace innovation in such a way that can be modeled, shared with others, and demonstrated as a success across our country.
Rooted in the desire to prioritize the development and retention of workforce talent while meeting the needs of families and communities, EPIC is leading transformative community efforts to reduce the costs of childcare, create access to quality early education services for those who need it most, and build support across sectors for this work.
2022 Community Initiatives Snapshot
Employer Based Child Care Design Lab: The First of Its Kind
EPIC has recently partnered with state partners in the Office of Early Childhood to create and present Colorado’s first Employer Based Childcare Design Lab, guiding and supporting 10 employers/partnerships from a range of sectors in Colorado communities as they seek to create on or near-site early child care and education services. With a goal of serving employees and families in their community, the lab provides broad training, resources, and education in everything from financial modeling to workforce development and real estate, so design lab participants can take their project from concept to completion.
Over the past 5 months, through both live sessions and individualized coaching and technical assistance, these project partners have engaged in community partnerships, innovative model development, and comprehensive business planning. Additionally, EPIC has supported these projects in planning for investments to support high-quality environments and programs within their plans, including above-market wages, lower student-to-child ratios, and ensuring both families and caregivers have supports they can count on at work.
When complete, these community endeavors will collectively provide nearly 500 new spots for young children in high-quality education and care, with 275 of those spots becoming available for infants and toddlers. In addition, nearly 140 new jobs will be created through this effort, with an anticipated total investment of over $20 million in the construction and ongoing quality supports and initiatives within each operation.
A Couple Project Sneak Peaks…
Fuel & Iron Food Hall (Pueblo, Co)
Originally conceived as an opportunity to provide an incubator and a catalyst in the community in historic downtown Pueblo, the Fuel & Iron food hall project will house 28 single and multi-family affordable housing units, 5 food vendors, and now a 40-50 slot early care and education center to serve onsite employees, residents, and members of the community. Fuel & Iron seeks to develop the property and contract with a local early child care and education operator to ensure close ties within the community, as well as access and affordability. The EPIC team had the opportunity to consult in key design and financial considerations for this innovative model that will combine access to healthy food, affordable living, and convenient, integrative family support services.
Steamboat Ski Resort (Steamboat Springs, Co)
The Steamboat Springs Ski Resort recognizes the unique challenge of supporting families in mountain communities as well as the workforce at large. With enthusiastic support from their executive team, two leadership team members (and mothers of young children) spearheaded this grassroots effort to utilize the resources of Steamboat Ski Resort to build an on-site child care center to serve the employees who work at the resort, as well as community members that live and work nearby. The EPIC team played a strategic role in supporting the feasibility process, real estate, and building considerations, and operational decisions to help bring this vision to life within the year.
What Participants Are Saying…
“This Design Lab helped us to show so many that said this was an impossible project that not only was it possible but would benefit our community in a multitude of ways now and in the future” (Clear Creek County Representative)
“The EPIC team is the only reason we are pursuing this project. They gave us the tools we needed to know this was a sustainable and exemplary step forward for our employees and our community” (Steamboat Springs Ski Resort)
“This Design Lab has created a community of counterparts that have been so valuable to the concept and support of this project through discussions, sharing of materials, and the ability to engage in a dialogue about our process, the financial model is the single most useful resource I have ever encountered in this field” (City of Aspen)
Check out the latest new article in Chalkbeat featuring the Design Lab!