SouthSide Breaks Ground to Build $3.5 Million Early Childhood Center as New Community Asset

SouthSide Early Childhood Center broke ground for $3.5M early childhood center and community hub at Jefferson Avenue and Highway 44.

Facility Will Meet Growing Needs of Children and Families in St. Louis City

The quality of life in the St. Louis City community took a significant step forward today with the groundbreaking of SouthSide Early Childhood Center’s new education center and community hub.

Mayor Francis Slay, Thomas R. Voss, chairman, president and CEO of Ameren, and other dignitaries joined preschool students who donned hard hats at the future site of the 19,000-square-foot center. SouthSide’s new home, which is only the third in its 127-year history, will be located at Jefferson Avenue near Interstate 44 and is expected to be completed in early 2014.

Anne Kessen Lowell, executive director, SouthSide, said the new early childhood center will expand the organization's educational and support services to more children and families and provide much-needed space to expand the center’s excellent program.

“Early childhood education builds the best foundation for future success, especially for children living in poverty,” Kessen Lowell said. “We are building on our mission of serving families through quality early education and early interventions for at-risk children in an inclusive environment, and provide parent support and adult education opportunities for our families, as well as for the community at large.  We are deeply grateful to Ameren and Tom and Carol Voss, who are honorary co-chairs of the capital campaign to build the new education center.”

“Ameren is proud to be part of this historic project to improve early childhood education and services to the children and families of St. Louis City," said Voss.  "These types of facilities and services are the building blocks of a better quality of life in our region. Our support is just one way we put our company's promise, Focused Energy. For Life. into action in the communities we serve.”

The new building, which was designed by St. Louis-based Oculus, Inc., a leader in childcare facility design, will include: a first floor early childhood education facility – including 10 classrooms, an interior gross motor room, resource library for parents, and a “kids’ kitchen” where children can learn about health and nutrition, prepare food from the preschool garden, and conduct cooking projects with teachers. Second floor space will feature administrative offices and state of the art meeting and conference room space for parent meetings, teacher training and for community meetings. Rhodey Construction, Inc. will serve as the construction manager.

Ameren provided  generous support to the campaign, helping SouthSide to exceed its first phase goal of $3.5 million.  Phase One has also been generously supported by gifts from Emerson, Edward Jones, Centene, Maritz, Nestle-Purina as well as foundations, including Bellwether Foundation, William T. Kemper Foundation, Trio Foundation, Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis, Philpott Family Foundation, The Crawford Taylor Foundation, Dana Brown Charitable Trust and a challenge by The J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation which was met seven months ahead of schedule.  Support from the Deaconess Foundation was critical to the capital campaign and pre-development work.

Also, the City of St. Louis has announced a recent Community Development Block Grant. Generous individuals also have stepped forward, including Dave and Thelma Steward, Board members and former Board members, and many other gifts. The general campaign chairman was headed by Keith Jacob, President/Chief Executive Officer, St. Louis Staffing.

Certain project costs have been underwritten by the Missouri Department of Economic Development, Neighborhood Assistance Program and the taxpayers of the State of Missouri. IFF provided interim financing for site acquisition and site preparation. In addition, an allocation of New Markets Tax Credits from the St. Louis Development Corporation helped make the facility possible. 

Funding Still Needed for Phase Two of Campaign

Funding is still needed to complete several remaining projects in and around the facility and include: a playground, new technology, outdoor classrooms and security system. The public may join in the effort by donating online at: http://bit.ly/Donate2SouthSide

About SouthSide Early Childhood Center

SouthSide’s mission is to nurture, educate and inspire children and families with limited resources, fostering healthy development and a strong foundation for success. Our vision is that children love to learn, live purposeful lives, and contribute positively to their communities. SouthSide continues the vision of its founders. Thousands of children have passed through its doors since its founding in 1886. At SouthSide, children are lovingly cared for, educated, and launched toward success.

Currently, the agency serves 98 children and their families each year and will have room to grow to 140 in the new school. SouthSide provides exceptional childcare and early education, family and parenting support services, and early intervention for children with disabilities and mental health challenges. SouthSide transforms the future for children from all walks of life by building a foundation for academic and life success.  SouthSide Early Childhood Center, formerly South Side Day Nursery, is a proud member of the United Way of Greater St. Louis. SouthSide is currently located at: 2930 Iowa Ave., St. Louis, 63118. SouthSide can be reached at: 314-865-0322 or online at:

Website: southside-ecc.org

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/southsideecc

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SouthSideEarlyChildhoodCenter

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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