26 Oct Seattle Parks Department Approves 9 Locations
By Andrew A. Jay
The big moment is here and we are thrilled to announce that Tiny Trees Preschool is officially partnering with Seattle Parks and Recreation to open 9 outdoor preschools in 2016 and 2017. Today we received an official letter of intent (see below copy) from Parks superintendent Jesús Aguirre expressing his support for Tiny Trees and the idea of affordable, outdoor preschool in green spaces across Seattle. Here are three big highlights of of our partnership with Parks and what it means for you (and the awesome little people in your life):
1) 6 locations will open in September of 2016 and another 3 locations the following year. Each location will start with 32 students and additional classrooms may be added in the future if they are successful.
2) Each school will reflect the diversity of the neighborhood it is located in. Parks and Tiny Trees are hoping to partner with the City’s Department of Education and Early Learning (DEEL) to provide tuition assistance for families at a number of locations. We are applying for DEEL’s Pathways program this fall with the hope of being a provider in the future for the Seattle Preschool Program. Specifically we will be applying for half the students at 3-4 locations to receive tuition assistance (free tuition for families who make <$75,000/yr). We will be applying for locations where the nearest elementary school has a high number of students receiving free and reduced lunch (an indicator of poverty). Two of Mayor Ed Murray’s successes so far have been the Parks initiative and the Seattle Preschool Program. With this partnership Tiny Trees becomes a marriage of these two great ideas.
3) The specific locations will be announced over the coming weeks. We are doing site visits with parks employees to each potential location and meeting with community and neighborhood groups to receive their input. We want to make sure each site has the bathrooms, shelter area and community support to be successful. Along with the specific locations we will also announce the specific program length, tuition price and after care providers for that school.
I encourage you to come hear Jesús Aguirre speak at the Tiny Trees Luncheon on November 6 about his vision for Seattle’s Parks and why he is excited to be partnering with Tiny Trees to bring outdoor preschool to scale across the city. This is an opportunity for you to appreciate his vision and to help Tiny Trees make it happen.
This moment represents a shift as Tiny Trees moves from sharing a vision to building a reality. It is a moment to pause and reflect on all of the people who have invested their time, energy and resources or those who have helped spread the word and share the Tiny Trees Story with others. It’s a time to be grateful. And it’s a time to strap on those rubber boots and get to the work of building the school we have been waiting for.