City to submit application for $600K CBDG

Graphic courtesy of Deacon Aspinwall, City Planner for the City of Alamosa Architectural illustration showing the location of the proposed Early Care and Learning Center.

Grant would go toward Early Care and Learning Center

ALAMOSA — With a unanimous vote in favor of the action, the City of Alamosa has agreed to submit an application for a $600,000 federally funded Community Development Block Grant (CBDG) for the construction of the Boys and Girls Club of the San Luis Valley’s (BGCSLV) new Early Care and Learning Center.

If awarded, the $600,000 will go toward funding the building's construction, which will be immediately west and northwest of the BGCSLV facility in Alamosa.

In a presentation made to the city council at the Feb. 21 meeting, Rachel James, director of Development Services and the person who will assist with the CDBG application, said the total cost of construction of the center is $7.5 million.

“This is an incredibly valuable new development in our community,” James told the council. “A lot of stakeholders have been working on this for many years, and it has huge implications for economic development and the well-being of our community.”

“This isn’t something the Boys and Girls Club anticipated doing,” Aaron Miltenberger, BGCSLV’s executive director, told council members. “But, because of our coalition of partners that represented city and county government, individual businesses, caregivers and grandparents, we knew that it was necessary.”

The scope of that need, most especially in the San Luis Valley, was illustrated in data Miltenberger then shared with the council, crediting Sherry Valdez with the Early Childhood Council for the information.

“There are 5,000 children between the ages of 0 and 6 years old currently living in the San Luis Valley,” he said. “Right now, there is only licensed care for 11% of the children between the ages of 0 and 3. In other words, only 1 out of every 10. Of those kids who are 0 to 6 years old, only 31% have access to licensed care. That’s 3 out of every 10.”

In a later conversation with the Valley Courier, Miltenberger expounded on both the plans and the need for the center.

“Zero to three is the most highly correlated with and indicative of future success,” he said. “But we’re thinking about it not just in terms of academic success but also seeing it as a way to address the opioid epidemic by supporting children to be in safe environments with highly trained professionals. But it’s also a way to provide some support for parents so they can be part of the workforce or do other things they need to do for their own health and wellness.”

The vision for the program also extends beyond Alamosa, where the center will be located.

“This is the pilot for a Valley-wide initiative,” Miltenberger said, “and we’re hoping to bridge the capacity in workforce development with some blended services that provide affordability and access across the valley.”

Finding licensed childcare providers is a consistent challenge in many communities, but Miltenberger and the other groups behind the center's creation have considered that, too.

“We’ve just completed a 6-month Opportunity Now grant to develop a plan around early childhood professionals to have stacked credentials. Our goal is to develop a workforce that is ready to hit the ground running in August in 2025 when we open the center,” he said.

Opportunity Now grants are part of an innovative program launched under the Polis administration that connects Colorado workers with new employment opportunities.

While BGCSLV appears to be at the helm of the project, the organization will not actually be in charge of the Early Care and Learning Center.

“[We] will own the building and we’ll be the fiscal umbrella for the non-profit that will be managing the center. That new non-profit is being formed right now and is a version of the Early Childhood Stakeholders that started in early 2020 with the Early Childhood Council and includes business leaders, grandparents, community-based organizations,” he said.

With all that said, Miltenberger still realizes this is just one step in meeting a significant and pressing need among the Valley’s youngest residents.

“We’re not going to be able to solve this problem, but we sure hope to put a dent in it,” he said.

This is the second application for a CDBG the city has submitted in support of the Early Childhood Center project. The first application was when the city was the pass through for a $450,000 CDBG that funded the design and engineering phase of the project.

To date, the BGCSLV, working with a capital fundraising committee that includes the city’s Economic Development Director, Kathy Woods, has already raised $3.1 million with another $700,000 in donations pending. Should the $600,000 CDBG be awarded, the remainder of funding needed to complete the building will be financed through a construction loan.

Construction is slated to begin in August of 2024 with completion projected for August of 2025. Anyone interested in contributing can do so at the website Colorado Gives, the BGCSLV website at www.bgcslv.org or by contacting Miltenberger or Sherry Valdez with the Early Childhood Council.

According to its website, the CDBG is one of the longest running programs in the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and is funded for local community development activities with the stated goal of addressing affordable housing, anti-poverty initiatives and infrastructure to support thriving communities.


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