A special thank you to our Grant Partner the LINK Grinnell for writing this guest blog and telling us about their work.
Community members and business leaders convened for months to address the childcare desert in Grinnell. A collaboration between the Grinnell Chamber of Commerce, Pow-I80 and JMP Early Childhood Iowa yielded a feasibility study that confirmed the Grinnell area had a severe shortage of child care spaces with which to serve the community. Since the initial results were released in June of 2018, a dedicated group met regularly to identify solutions to the ongoing childcare challenges facing Grinnell. After spending much time exploring multiple options, completing due diligence, and formulating ideas and possible solutions, a new nonprofit made an after-school program a reality in the community.
LINK Grinnell was formed as a 501(c)(3) organization to address families’ needs for child care with the initial development of an after-school program. The organization aims to support the community’s long-term and ongoing efforts of childcare and youth development in Grinnell.
The mission is to lead, inspire, nurture and keep children educated, enriched and engaged in the Grinnell community. Founding board members have worked to secure partnerships and collaborations with area employers, and worked with the Grinnell-Newburg School District to house the after-school program at Davis Elementary School.
In addition to the after-school program, LINK has added full service child care for professional development days for the Grinnell-Newburg School District as well as summer programming starting in 2020. Most recently, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, LINK organized and is now providing child care to all essential workers and businesses in the community.
These programs are available for a daily rate and, thanks to a generous grant from the Iowa Woman’s Foundation, a sliding fee scale to qualified applicants is now available. With the sliding fee scale program, families can monetarily invest in childcare based on ability to pay and remove some of the financial barriers that many families face.