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Advice for opening a non-profit center?

  • 1.  Advice for opening a non-profit center?

    Posted 11-29-2018 03:25 PM
    Hello, I'm new to the forum (but not to NAEYC or ECE) and I currently have an in home daycare. I have worked for a non-profit center in the past and I would like to open one where I currently live in rural southeast Kansas. We don't have a lot of options for high quality childcare and preschool programs. We also have a gap between families who have high enough incomes that they don't qualify for head start but don't make enough for their children to go to a quality childcare/ preschool program. What I want to do is be open to everybody regardless of income and create a scholarship for kids whose families can't afford tuition. I'd like to do this as a non-profit because I know as a non-profit I'll be eligible for more grants and other assistance programs. I was just wondering if there is anyone who has started or worked for a non-profit like this who might be able to give me any advice as I get started. Thanks!

    Tamisha Sewell
    The Treehouse Early Learning
    Independence KS

  • 2.  RE: Advice for opening a non-profit center?

    Posted 11-30-2018 12:41 AM

    Greetings friend. 

    I'm an ECE consultant and trainer not a lawyer, so take this advice with that in mind. 

    Having a small business depending on the skills of your accountant can be very useful. You can write off lots of things. You can also do this with a nonprofit, but you know nonprofits need a board and lots of paperwork, and grants? Those are really hard to obtain. You would think that helping children in need would open you up to all this funding, it was such a nightmare (at least for me)....well the bigger grants that help you do things are going to go the established nonprofits with track records. As a new nonprofit the most you're going to get is maybe $5000, if you're lucky and since you're a new kid on the block they are going to want to see lots of benchmarks reached. 

    I have run nonprofits and LLC and unless you have a team, the LLC in my opinion is easier for an independent, solo operator. Nonprofits really work best in a kind of cooperative type scenario. You're a preschool, your friends runs a counseling center, another friend runs an afterschool program, another friend runs a clothing store for kids,  and another friend has a little league team now that together with an objective is a nonprofit with a ready made board and support to actually accomplish something and put you in the running for grants that can actually do something. 

    Nonprofits are a team sport. 

    But keep in mind this is my perspective, scenarios can vary from state to state. If I were you I would join every professional organization that I could, go to a few meetings, get people to know you, and from their you'll be able to figure out the best plan of action. 

    Legalzoom and a couple of hundred dollars and you have a nonprofit, but I don't think that's the nonprofit that you want. 

    I hope this is somewhat helpful. 


    Lark Sontag
    Halcyon Park NJ

  • 3.  RE: Advice for opening a non-profit center?

    Posted 11-30-2018 12:54 AM


    In addition there are probably programs that your childcare center in its current state can be a part of. I know in NJ, NY, and California that if you're in certain locations if you're a childcare center regardless of if it is for profit or nonprofit the state will support the cost for some children. I don't know if there is a state or county childcare/ early childhood agency in you area, but I would suggest you reach out to them or at least find the website and see if there is a reimbursement program in your area and if so how would you go about getting on that list to be an approved vendor of childcare services. 


    Lark Sontag
    Halcyon Park NJ

  • 4.  RE: Advice for opening a non-profit center?

    Posted 11-30-2018 09:49 AM

    I share many of the same goals regarding helping families in the "gap" between poverty level assistance and being able to afford quality care.  Are you a member of a faith community?  I have not attempted to start a non-profit from scratch, but I was part of a task force that created a preschool as a mission outreach project with my church.  I would be happy to share how we started our school.  You may take a look at our web site and see how closely our mission aligns with yours.

    Kind regards,

    Jenny James
    First Lutheran Preschool
    Ellicott City MD

  • 5.  RE: Advice for opening a non-profit center?

    Posted 11-30-2018 12:04 PM
    I also had this goal when I first opened up. I eventually decided to remain an in home program but will be opening up as a large family child care home eventually. Mostly because as mentioned above it seemed like it would actually hinder some of the very goals I wanted to achieve. I do think with more states partnering with Family Child Care we are going to be able to help more children. I also had to take into account overhead costs and the lawyers and more people being involved in the decisions.

    Have you thought about partnering with a local community college ECE program? Holding a fundraiser to establish a yearly preschool slot that is to help out someone in need? I totally get where you are coming from though and it was my entire reason for doing a family child care preschool program and not a large center. I wanted to be a person who filled the gap.

    Temesha (Ms. Tessie) Ragan
    Family Child Care IF Facilitator
    Perfect Start Learning
    Family Child Care Provider
    Edwards, CA