In 1976 the Small World Early Learning Center became a reality thanks to the partnership between parents and community members of Red Lake Falls. The nonprofit child care center has been serving families in the area ever since, and thanks to that same spirit of community support, they’ve been able to keep their doors open despite the COVID-19 pandemic making its way to Northwest Minnesota.
“Seeing the impact that COVID-19 has had on our community members has been eye-opening” said the center’s director, Todd Glass.
The center typically serves 28-30 families on average from Red Lake, Pennington and Polk counties. They have a staff of nine, and they’ve been able to keep their staff employed thanks to financial relief they’ve been able to secure. In March 2020, the center received a $10,000 Small Business Emergency Relief loan. This Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) funding program was facilitated by NMF in order to process applications for small businesses in the northwest region of the state. Todd worked with Tabi Steinmetz, NMF program officer for economic development, to secure the loan funding. The center also received a $2,000 Emergency Child Care Grant from NMF, a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan from the state, and a $10,000 grant from Red Lake County. The church where the center is housed also waived electricity bills to provide financial relief.
“We would have been long gone if it wasn’t for the support we’ve received,” said Todd.
The Small World Early Learning Center values creating an environment that is an extension of the home for the children they care for. They seek input from the parents and consider them important partners in creating a sustainable child care program that remains a high-quality service for families.