MVYouth, a community fund founded in 2014, has awarded Martha’s Vineyard Museum a $219,138 grant and Martha’s Vineyard Community Services’ Early Childhood Programs a provisional grant of $1,000,000.
The M.V. Museum was awarded $219,138 to equip a classroom dedicated to youth education in the museum’s new location at the Marine Hospital campus in Vineyard Haven. The classroom will host visiting groups from Island schools and preschools, as well as the museum’s summer programs for children, serving as a nucleus for the study of Island history. MVYouth funds will purchase furniture and shelving, IT, audio and visual equipment, and other materials necessary to transform the classroom into a teaching and learning space.
“We are thrilled to be recognized in this way,” education director Ann DuCharme told the Times. “Education is at the core of everything we do, and in our beautiful new home, the classroom is sort of the heart and soul of the whole building, and to have this support from MVYouth means the world. We couldn’t be more thrilled.”
MVYouth advisory board members and trustees praised the museum’s education programs, which currently engage children through classroom visits to the elementary, middle, and high schools, and on field trips to their Edgartown campus. The museum’s education programs have built effective collaborations with Island schools, preschools, and other nonprofits to deliver state-mandated curriculum to children in grades K-12. The museum’s education staff work closely with classroom teachers to support grade-level requirements while teaching Island history.
“We feel really honored to be recognized by MVYouth and be in good company with the wonderful organizations they support,” Stever Aubrey, board chair for the M.V. Museum, told the Times. “I think the work that we do for the communities at large around the Island, around education, is vitally important for the Island, and MVYouth is helping us get there. We’re in the midst of a very ambitious project, and we’re in the home stretch here, and I think that this wonderful award is going right at the target of one of the most important things that we can do on this Island, and that’s educating children.”
Museum educators teach more than 200 classes per year to Island schoolchildren, reaching 1,150 students annually, free of charge. Additionally, through summer programming and community partnerships, the education programs reach another 175 seasonal children. The museum projects expansion of their education programs in the new space, with expanded numbers of school field trips and collaborations with other Island nonprofits. Their goal is to reach each of the 1,800 students in the Island school system.
The provisional grant for Martha’s Vineyard Community Services (MVCS) reserves $1,000,000 to build a new Early Childhood Programs Center, addressing a critical Island need — quality, affordable childcare. Pursuant to the terms of a provisional grant, the trustees agreed to assess the proposal again in six months to review updated estimated costs of construction, and gauge the agency’s progress in gaining necessary permits and other government approvals, and achieving fundraising goals.
Martha’s Vineyard Community Services estimates the new ECP Center will cost $4.28 million to complete. The organization has $1 million committed from private donors, in addition to the $1 million now reserved from MVYouth. They are actively seeking the final $2.28 million needed for the project.
“This is an award that we were not expecting,” MVCS executive director Julie Fay said. “We are thrilled to be able to have this usher in another level of energy and enthusiasm toward our ultimate goal of replacing not only the early childhood programs, but all the campuses of Community Services.”
South Mountain Co. has been retained to create a master plan for the entire MVCS campus, with the Early Childhood Programs Center constituting Phase 1. The aging campus is 40 years old, and overdue for renovations. The proposed ECP facility will house four classrooms: infant, younger toddler, older toddler, and preschool/prekindergarten, adding 17 new full-time spots, allowing for a maximum of 65 children to be served daily, a 26 percent increase from current capacity.
The Early Childhood Programs currently serve 48 children daily (3 months to 5 years old) in their own childcare program; and administer the Head Start program, which provides home-based early intervention services, and the Family Center, a resource center for children and families housed off-campus in the Nathan Mayhew Center in Vineyard Haven.
The Early Childhood Programs is the only program on the Island accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children; the only center-based program offering infant care; the only program with state contracts to provide free and reduced-cost breakfast, snack, and lunch programs; the only center-based program open year-round, 52 weeks a year; the only program with income-eligible spots; the only program that accepts state-funded vouchers; the only program with spots for children with open cases with Department of Children and Families (DCF), state-funded childcare to support children in foster care and families in need.
MVYouth’s advisory board evaluates all expansion grant proposals using the criteria of leadership, plan, finances, impact, collaboration, sustainability, and readiness. The advisory board makes funding recommendations to the board of trustees, who ultimately vote on final funding decisions.
Gabrielle Mannino contributed to this story.