Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative (ELNC) is a mission-based organization that is vested in creating access to quality early education for vulnerable children.  ELNC has successfully implemented an intentional preschool service system in the vulnerable neighborhoods of Grand Rapids, Michigan. With its innovative hub-and-spoke model, ELNC is a collaborative partnership between trusted neighborhood agencies, providing shared services, advocacy, and funding to enable the provision of accessible, dual-generational, place-based, and culturally competent early childhood education (ECE) programming in neighborhoods previously offering few, if any, such services.

The Challenge

A child’s future trajectory is in many ways determined by the quality of education he or she receives by the age of 8. Early childhood is the single most prolific period of development for children, as 90% of a child’s brain growth occurs between birth and the age of 31. However, during this vital developmental time, children in poverty generally lack access to high-quality educational and developmental resources. As a result, poverty-stricken youth exhibit higher rates of academic failure as compared to other socio-economic groups. Thus, children from low-income and disadvantaged communities have even more to gain from the benefits of ECE programs. Under the leadership of Dr. Nkechy Ekere Ezeh, ELNC grew from a shared vision of seven grassroots organizations, to seek a solution to the need for these critical ECE services in vulnerable Grand Rapids neighborhoods. Given the success of ELNC’s programmatic offerings in its first four years, combined with the strength of its esteemed leadership team, ELNC is uniquely positioned to consider opportunities to enhance financial sustainability and resiliency in order to identify and pursue opportunities for growth.

How We Helped

Over the course of six months, Mission Throttle collaborated with ELNC to identify the organization’s vision for growth and scale, review its current delivery model, conduct in-depth research on the state of early childhood education, and analyze its operations, impact, and financial efficiency. These analyses confirmed stakeholders’ views of ELNC as a high-performing and impactful organization. Mission Throttle identified several opportunities to even further increase the operational efficiency, impact and financial sustainability of ELNC’s program offerings. ELNC prioritized eight of Mission Throttle’s initiatives, which included research on best practices, models of excellence, and potential implementation plans. The resulting, comprehensive report will serve as a resource to support ELNC’s resiliency, ultimately enabling it to accelerate its early education services.

The Results

Mission Throttle’s additional research, considerations, and implementation plans will serve as a framework to support ELNC’s resiliency, ultimately enabling it to pursue growth and scale.

“The research Mission Throttle conducted is simply outstanding. I now have the “words” to make a balanced case for Early Childhood – incorporating the Scientific Argument, the Economic Argument and the Equity Arguments that paints a COMPLETE picture that can resonate with people in all sectors. We will also be adopting the value proposition that Mission Throttle suggested. Mission Throttle took a balanced approach – the work was done through an authentic cultural lens. I love that!!”

— Dr. Nkechy Ekere Ezeh, CEO/Founder, Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative