Creating a Sustainable Funding Model

Investments in high-quality early learning programs can prevent achievement gaps before develop and provide all children with a strong foundation for school success.

The partners who helped create the Dunbar Learning Complex recognized the importance of investing early in child learning and development. They also recognized the realities of tight budgets and limited public and private funding — which led them to develop a financing model that integrates multiple funding sources to support the high-quality, comprehensive, seamless services and programs critical to child and family success. This blending of funds is a model that can be replicated to support similar endeavors in other communities.

The average cost per child at Educare Atlanta is less than $14,000, most of which is supplied by federal Head Start and Early Head Start funding that supports six hours of daily care for 10 months of the year. To provide full-day care throughout the year, the school combines Head Start funds with money from the Georgia Department of Human Services, which provides subsidies for the parents enrolled at The Center for Working Families, Inc.

On top of these funding streams, various partners have layered additional sources to ensure high-quality, family-focused programming, including the Atlanta Housing Authority, George Kaiser Family Foundation, Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, Governor’s Office for Children and Families, Georgia PreK, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Child and Adult Care Food Program, United Way of Greater Atlanta and the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Renovating Dunbar Elementary School to include an early childhood center also involved blending funds. The Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation provided $3.5 million in capital funding, which provides subsidies for parents enrolled at The Center for Working Families, Inc.

Funding Model Chart

The logic is quite clear from an economic standpoint. We can invest early to close disparities and prevent achievement gaps, or we can pay to remediate disparities when they are harder and more expensive to close. Either way, we are going to pay.”
— James J. Heckman, Nobel Memorial Prize winner in economics