Early childhood education center is part of $105 million ThriveOn King project in the Bronzeville area

ByAlyssa R. Elliott

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An early childhood education center will be a key part of the $105 million ThriveOn King project in the Bronzeville area.

The 14,000-square-foot learning space will be located on the first floor of the ThriveOn King building, the former Schuster’s department store, which is being redeveloped at 2153 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

The project, delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, is expected to be completed in 2023.

The six-story building will serve multiple uses and be home to the ThriveOn Collaboration, a partnership that includes the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, Wauwatosa-based Medical College of Wisconsin’s community engagement programs and Royal Capital Group.

The collaboration will focus on early childhood education, health and wellness, social cohesion, housing and economic opportunity.

The education component, announced Friday, will be in conjunction with the Malaika Early Education Center and is part of a five-year plan that will see $5 million mobilized throughout Harambee, Halyard Park and Brewers Hill. Funding comes from the foundation, and additional private philanthropy. Funding has also come from the community’s support for the Greater Together campaign.

“Resident input and local research have demonstrated to the collaboration that having quality, affordable options for early childhood education is a pressing need and that considerable gaps exist,” ThriveOn said in a Friday news release.

The new learning center will offer infants and toddlers high-quality experiences that support critical social and emotional development, said Kathryn Dunn, senior vice president for community impact and chief strategy officer for the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.

“The center will represent an environment featuring some of the latest in design practices that stimulate and engage. And Malaika’s team and approach to education and care will provide the children with a loving environment that engages and supports the whole family,” Dunn said.

Malaika Early Education Center’s involvement in the project is the result of a thorough examination by the ThriveOn Collaboration.

“Malaika was chosen based on its strong leadership, level of family and community involvement, exemplary reputation for quality care and its alignment with the ThriveOn Collaboration vision,” ThriveOn said.

In addition to its investment in students, the organization is committed to investing in educators using tools such as scholarships targeted at supporting educators seeking to break into the early education field.

“We recognize the need to invest directly in providers now through the types of programs we are funding, while also working with partners to advocate to changes to how public resources flow — like WI Shares reimbursement rates — so the sector can support higher wages for staff,” Dunn said.

Other parts of the ThriveOn King redevelopment project include offices, apartments, a food hall and community space.

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: ThriveOn announces childhood education effort in Bronzeville