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Impact Story January 16, 2024

St. Michael’s School and Nursery  

St. Michael’s School and Nursery is the oldest early childhood program in Delawareand one of the oldest in the nation. Located in the city of Wilmington, the school has nurtured a healthy learning environment for thousands of children in their first 5 years of life. The school we know today emerged from a century-long history of involvement in the community and commitment to children in the region that goes beyond childcare. Their approach has continued to evolve, addressing critical gaps in childcare services for today’s families.

Originally part of St. Michael’s Episcopal Mission, the school was founded in 1890 to ease the burden on working class parents who lacked access to childcare and expanded in 1908 to add full-day kindergarten.

In the early 1900’s, St. Michael’s also operated a hospital for babies, serving as the sole medical facility for families of color in the city and throughout the 1920’s, the institution extended its support to homeless and abandoned children while facilitating adoptions.  

The school is now undertaking a capital campaign to meet the community’s needs once again by completing a nearly $7M project to modernize and expand its 28,900 square foot child care center.  Improvements will address aged infrastructure, improving the school’s safety, learning environment and efficiency. 

For over 25 years, Reinvestment Fund has made targeted investments in early childcare that allow more children to get the high-quality education they deserve. In this tradition, Reinvestment Fund financing will support St. Michael’s School and Nursery’s renovation and expansion project that includes transforming the center’s former library into a multi-purpose Community Resource Center. The community hub will serve as a place for families to access resources to navigate social service and school systems and for teachers to advance their early education career pathways. Renovations will also improve staff areas, classrooms, storage space and accessibility. Once the expansion project is complete, St. Michael’s School and Nursery will increase its pre-pandemic enrollment from 160 to 198.  

 
 

St. Michael’s stands out because of the deep investments they are making in their staffing at a time where work force is a huge challenge for the child care sector. Their strong commitment to training and professional development will ensure they have qualified staff to serve the increased number of children.

“St. Michael’s stands out because of the deep investments they are making in their staffing at a time where work force is a huge challenge for the child care sector. Their strong commitment to training and professional development will ensure they have qualified staff to serve the increased number of children,” said Karen Bustard, Reinvestment Fund Senior Program Manager, Early Childhood Education. “At the same time, their leadership team is advocating for staffing resources and needs at the state level, and are important voices in a critical conversation about how to better support the profession.”   

Reinvestment Fund’s Lending and Programs departments jointly worked on underwriting this transaction, leveraging expertise both in assessing quality ECE programs and systems with their ability to assess the feasibility of the project, including the capital campaign and loan repayment aspects. “This lending opportunity has several strategic benefits: it expands care for infants and toddlers which have a greater shortage of available seats; it is our first ECE loan in Delaware, extending our services; and the $2.9M loan reflects St. Michael’s School and Nursery’s size, strong management team, and financial capacity to manage this project and expansion,” said Bridget Wiedeman, Senior Director, Lending and Investment.  

A Delaware 5-Star center (the highest rating in the state’s Quality Improvement System), the school prides itself on fostering a safe, nurturing, inclusive environment for children and families starting out their educational journey. St. Michael’s School and Nursery offers developmentally appropriate curriculums that practice a “whole child” approach and strive to ensure that each child’s unique and individual physical, emotional, social and intellectual needs are met and optimized. The students and staff reflects the community’s rich diversity, and the school maintains a firm commitment to supporting working families, just as it did 130 years ago.  

 

Photo credits: St. Michael’s School and Nursery  

For more information, contact:

 
 
Karen Bustard
Senior Program Manager
 
 
Bridget Wiedeman
Senior Director, Underwriting & Training

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