Heritage University’s Early Learning Center to offer expanded range of services in new state-of-the-art facility

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Heritage University’s Early Learning Center to offer expanded range of services in new state-of-the-art facility

Toppenish, Wash. – Heritage University President Andrew Sund, Ph.D. announced today that thanks to the generosity of an anonymous private donor, it will break ground on December 3, 2021 on a new $3.2 million state-of-the-art Early Learning Facility to serve the needs of the community. The new five-classroom facility will serve children between the ages of 12 months and kindergarten, providing pre-kindergarten instruction known to be invaluable in later years of scholastic achievement.  The center is scheduled to open in the winter of 2022. The groundbreaking ceremony will start at 12:00 p.m.   

Heritage University’s mission of making higher education accessible regardless of economic, cultural or social barriers, is also shared by the university’s Early Learning Center (ELC). The university’s ELC strives to help families with similar access and financial challenges, to prepare their children for success in kindergarten and beyond. “Our early learning programs are designed to offer experiences that enhance and enrich each child’s cognitive, language, social, emotional, physical and creative development,” said ELC Executive Director Claudette Lindquist. “We believe that good child care is good family care. However, our basic philosophy is one of freedom to learn, grow and make choices and we have structured the environment to reflect that belief.”

Quality early learning experiences help prepare children for success in kindergarten, leading to improved educational outcomes during their middle school, high school, and college years. It’s a strategy embraced by Yakima Valley Partners for Education, a Collective Impact initiative started by Heritage University and supported by collaborations with schools and communities throughout the lower Yakima Valley. “We have a deep understanding of the formative role of early education as well as the need to build on the resilience and skills of youth throughout their educational journey,” said Collective Impact Director Suzy Diaz. “We take a cradle-to-career view of improving educational outcomes so that our youth develop into thriving members of our community, and it’s a view wholeheartedly embraced by Heritage University’s ELC.”

Lindquist says the ELC also prepares Heritage University students for their future careers through work-study opportunities at the ELC that provide them valuable experience in their chosen fields. “We have employed social work and nursing students who perform a wide variety of important roles as assistants at the ELC,” said Lindquist. “The students get to use what they’ve learned in the classroom here, earn a paycheck while in school, and obtain skills and experience coveted by employers.”

In addition to serving the lower Yakima Valley community year-round, the ELC also extends its services to Heritage students, faculty and staff. The ELC is currently licensed to enroll 74 students; the expansion will increase that number to 90. For more information, contact Claudette Lindquist at (509) 865-0723 or Lindquist_C@Heritage.edu. For help with interviews, please contact Davidson Mance at (509) 969-6084 or Mance_D@Heritage.edu.

Heritage University Early Learning Center rendering by Graham Baba Architects