Great Start Collaborative Partner Spotlight: Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative


This month we are highlighting the work of Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative!

What programs do you offer young children and their families?

ELNC offers center based early childhood education in underserved neighborhoods in Grand Rapids, MI. Our programming is available for children 0-5 years old. We offer holistic support services including research-based curriculum, health and mental health services, family engagement, support with transitioning to Kindergarten, and every family receives a Family Coach to partner with them to make the most of their early childhood experience. All programming is free to those who qualify and offers breakfast, lunch, and snack. Our infant/toddler program provides diapers, wipes, and formula. Our Early Head Start operates Monday through Friday for at least 10 hours per day and our Preschool program operates Monday through Thursday for at least 7 hours a day. Learn more at

How do families enroll in your programs?

We make it easy to apply! Follow this link to fill out an application: or call (616) 430-7318 or email

How does your organization use parent voice to inform your programs?

Our parents are the first line of decision-making in our program. We have a peer-elected Parent Policy Council that represents all of our site locations who vote on hiring decisions, grants, budgets, policies, and procedures. We also enlist our parents to support the interview process, review our school readiness goals, and actively participate in our efforts towards inclusion in our classrooms and community. Parents participate in advocacy efforts at the local and state level as well as participate in a variety of training and parenting class topics. Parents are engaged through home visits, parent-teacher conferences, planning family engagement events, volunteering, and so much more!

What do you most appreciate about your GSC membership?

There are so many passionate organizations and individuals who see how crucial and valuable early childhood education is. They are, after all, our next leaders! Investment now creates empowering opportunities in the future for our children and families. GSC has created a space where we can all come together and make systemic and lasting change. They provide a tangible avenue to organized efforts in our community. I am grateful to be a part of the magic that is the GSC!

Tara Gwamna, Interim EHS Director


Funding from the Office of Great Start within the Michigan Department of Education supports the implementation of Great Start.