Building on Success

6 min read

Children’s Campus of Kansas City Expands with New Classrooms

Since the Children’s Campus of Kansas City, Kansas, opened in June 2010, it has become a national model for combining early childhood education programs with research, along with health, counseling and professional services for families. Last year, the 72,000 square-foot campus rearranged its floor plan in a renovation that added two new classrooms to service the overwhelming demand from parents of school-age children, preschoolers and toddlers.

It cost a total of $14.1 million to develop the Campus. CCKC managed to raise $6.9 million on its own in contributions, but was still a long way from having enough to build.

“The NMTC put us over the top with enough money to go forward,” says board member Martha Staker. “We gained spaces for about 30 more children. It makes a huge difference and we will be eternally grateful.”

Waiting list grows for services
While the Children’s Campus can now help more children, its waiting list is still rising as its reputation in the community continues to grow.

“There are still always 100 to 200 children on that list,” says Staker. It began in 2004, when three nonprofits partnered together. “We wanted to provide a seamless array of services,” she says.

The early learning classrooms are run through the Educare of Kansas City program by Project Eagle, a division of the University of Kansas Medical Center for which Staker served as director of early education.

A second nonprofit, the Family Conservancy, provides mental health services, parenting education, crisis intervention, assistance to overcome poverty and professional development services.

The third nonprofit, Juniper Gardens Children’s Project, works to help children developmentally, academically and socially through research. Juniper shares its daily research with the educators at the Campus and directly with the parents of the children who attend the program. “Parents are excited to receive data and use it to support their children’s growth and development,” says Staker.

Teachers from the Children’s Campus are now frequently asked to present on the program’s success. “We now have University of Kansas City students that come over to our Campus for training,” says Staker. “They look at us as the premiere early education program in the area.”

When U.S. Senator Charles Patrick “Pat” Roberts visited the Campus in August, he stated, “I am pleased to visit Children’s Campus to see firsthand a local partnership trying new methods to teach and nurture low-income children in a facility specifically designed for their needs.”

Bridging the gaps for low-income families
The Campus serves the people of Wyandotte County, which includes Kansas City, Kansas.

“It’s an underserved county, with a disproportionate number of families in poverty,” says Staker. “I don’t think we are serving a quarter of the children who could qualify for our services.”

Many of the urban neighborhoods served by CCKC are isolated, both from the wealthier Kansas City suburbs and from Kansas City, Missouri, just across the river. And many of the families served by the Campus don’t drive, including a number of recent immigrants who don’t have drivers’ licenses.

“The area has very poor public transportation. Buses don’t go back and forth between the states. Parents were having to run from eight to 12 locations to have their service needs met,” says Staker. “The parents were so tired, they often just went home.”

By gathering multiple service providers together under one roof, the Campus has made it much easier for these families to get the help they need. “I think we are breaking down some of these barriers,” says Staker.

The Campus also provides services to children who don’t attend the center-based Educare center. Educators typically visit children in their homes for 90 minutes a week – much less than the time spent with children who attend the center. However, the children who receive home-based services avoid the waiting list for the classrooms.

“We can usually accommodate everyone who wants home-based services within a few months,” says Staker.

Including its home-based services, the Campus serves 1,000 annually.

NMTCs made the Children’s Campus possible
The Campus received an allocation of $14.1 million of NMTCs. To use that allocation, the Campus raised $14.1 in qualified equity investments, including $5.1 million that CCKC had fundraised and paid for the development site. The qualified equity investments also included a $2.2 million deferred developer fee and a $1.6 million bridge loan from M&I Bank, now known as BMO Harris. U.S. Bank paid $4 million for the Children’s Campus’ NMTCs.

Success for the Campus
As the project approaches the seven-year anniversary of its financing, Staker is looking forward to the unwinding at the end of the NMTC compliance period. “The best part for us is it will allow us to consolidate our budget,” says Staker. “From a financial management point of view it will be much easier.”

Since the Children’s Campus opened, the three nonprofits that form CCKC find it much easier to raise money. “The amount of money we’ve been able to bring in has skyrocketed,” says Staker. “That’s because we can write each other in as part of the grant. We can show that we will avoid duplication of services.”

Completing the development also gave CCKC a valuable track record that has helped it raise money. “It gave us some credibility,” says Staker. For example, the Kansas City branch of Juniper Gardens moved into the Children’s Campus with a $500,000 grant to cover two years of operations. Soon after the center opened, the nonprofit won a five-year grant for several million dollars.

The ability to raise new funds helped the Campus pay for its recent $400,000 expansion, including the hard cost of construction, architectural drawings and materials for new classrooms.

“We were able to pay all cash for that,” says Staker. The money raised from donors even left the campus with an extra $25,000 once the work was done, which it used to help to pay down debt.

Sources of Funding
$5.1 million, acquisition value
$4.0 million, U.S. Bank (equity from New Markets Tax Credits)
$2.2 million, deferred developer fee
$1.6 million, M&I Bank, now known as BMO Harris (bridge loan)
$794,854, cash from donations
$14.1 million, total development costs