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Lincoln Littles to address childcare benefits cliff

The first ever Lincoln Littles giving day, held on February 12, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, raised $637,397. Hosted by Lincoln Community Foundation, in partnership with Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, the giving day raised funds for tuition assistance, which will allow more children in need to access quality early childhood education. The giving day and fund is a significant development toward the Prosper Lincoln Early Childhood community agenda goal of increasing accessible and affordable high-quality early childhood education.   

Eleven early childhood education providers will receive funding from Lincoln Littles to provide tuition assistance to low-income families. Those providers have indicated that they can serve more children from low income families with help from the Lincoln Littles Fund. 

One family contacted Fingerprints Child Development Center, a pre-qualified Lincoln Littles provider. Due to a modest increase in salary, the family no longer qualified for child care subsidy and had to leave their current center because they could not afford tuition. “They are shuffling the children, ages 2 & 4 years old, around between family members and their schedules,” said Prudence Devney, Director.

Many families fall off this “benefits cliff” creating a financial strain and stressful situation. A promotion or even slight cost-of-living increase in pay results in losing all of the child care subsidy. The raise in salary isn’t enough to cover the difference in tuition cost. Lincoln Littles funding may be used to ensure these children continue to receive high quality early childhood education.
Qualified providers include CEDARS, The Children’s Place, Community Action – Head Start, Educare Lincoln, Dimensions Education Programs at First-Plymouth, Fingerprints Child Development Center, Kids First Inc., KinderCare Learning Center, St. Mark’s Preschool/KIDZONE, Westminster Preschool, and World of Knowledge Child Development Center. They all are Step 2 or higher in Nebraska’s Step Up to Quality rating scale and are currently serving at least one child from a low-income family. Additional providers may receive grants from the fund as soon as they meet the qualifications.  

“Capacity is the biggest issue,” said Michelle Suarez, Prosper Lincoln developer for Early Childhood. “We hope Lincoln Littles encourages more quality providers to open spaces for low-income families.”

Quotes From Our Supporters

Prosper Lincoln is one of the most exciting community engagement and community-building efforts happening in the country.  It’s a real model!

Dan Cramer, Co-founder, Grassroots Solutions, St. Paul, MN

Prosper Lincoln will not only benefit all of your kids and your community; it is also a model for similar efforts around the country, thanks to the leadership of LCF.

Richard Ober, President & CEO, New Hampshire Charitable Foundation; Founder Community Foundation Opportunity Network; Concord, NH

Communities across the US are searching for innovative initiatives to improve economic opportunity and mobility.  We can all learn from the amazing work of Prosper Lincoln!

Brian Collier, Executive Vice President, Foundation for the Carolinas

Prosper Lincoln is breaking new ground in economic revitalization without displacement.

Ellen Shepard, CEO, Allies, Chicago, IL

To see an entire community come together to ensure all Lincoln residents are successful is very inspirational.  Congratulations!

Nancy Van Milligen, President/CEO, Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, Dubuque, IA

In my regional and national work in community development this is one of the most unique and exciting strategies for true change I have seen!

Del Gines, Senior Community Development Advisor, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City Omaha, NE

Bringing together a multi-sector group of committed Lincoln residents will support prosperity for all.  Congratulations on this excellent collaboration.

Holly C. Sampson, President, Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation, Duluth, MN

Diverse voices from across Lincoln came together so that current and future generations can thrive. This is no small feat, and it’s inspiring to see that collective vision inch closer to fruition. You can consider yourselves a model for other communities starting to embark on this work.

Megan Powers, International Program Officer, The McKnight Foundation Minneapolis, MN

There is no better example of the power of convening than Prosper Lincoln! Bringing together members of the community from all walks of life to enrich the City is inspiring.

Regine Webster, Vice President Center for Disaster Philanthropy, Washington, DC

Prosper Lincoln is creating a national model for building vibrant, equitable and resilient communities.  Systems thinking + the right resources!

Sandy Wiggins, Chair, Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) Washington, DC

Prosper Lincoln is an important approach to solving community problems. By bringing together local businesses, nonprofits, neighborhoods, government and faith organizations, they are bridging divides, building connections, and sparking opportunities in way that shows true community engagement.

Vikki Spruill, President and CEO, Council on Foundations

This is one of the most impressive community focus efforts I have seen. You are making considerable progress!

Cynthia Hardin Milligan, Trustee and former Chair of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Battle Creek, MI

Lincoln is one of a few cities across America where citizens and leaders from across different sectors have come together to tackle their community’s most complex challenges. Your ability to already show results and persevere is inspiring.

Ben Hecht, President and CEO of Living Cities, Washington, DC

Solving tough national problems like the opportunity gap begins locally, and Prosper Lincoln is leading the way.

Robert D. Putnam, Professor of Public Policy and author, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

There is nothing more powerful in securing a community’s long-term health than evolving a shared vision through community engagement. Congratulations!

Rip Rapson, President, The Kresge Foundation, Detroit, MI