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Partnerships Key to Restoring Malone Center

Clyde Malone Community Center has long been known for its after-school programming, primarily for Lincoln’s African American youth in the neighborhood between the University’s downtown campus and North 27th Street. The center’s new executive director, Kimberly Goins is determined to expand that definition and restore the center to a thriving haven that provides a pathway for children born into poverty to change their life’s trajectory.

When Goins was hired at the Malone Center in the spring of 2017, the center had some issues that needed to be addressed immediately, including within the center’s early education center.

According to Goins, while the center had capacity to grow, it lacked quality, a hallmark outlined in Prosper Lincoln’s community agenda focus area of Early Childhood.  “I decided I would not let any parent put their child in a program where I wouldn’t put my own children,” she said.

The center lacked a nutritional food program, curriculum, structure and certified staff. Goins, admitting the issues, sought help from experts at Dimensions Early Childhood Research Foundation, Nebraska Children and Families Foundation and the State of Nebraska to provide guidance.

Michelle Suarez, Prosper Lincoln’s Early Childhood Developer also assisted. “She has been a huge help and partner in turning around our program,” said Goins.

In time, Goins hired a new director of the early childhood education program who has a background in behavioral health. “The children we are serving have experienced trauma due to the lack of economic stability in the household,” she said.

Having dipped to only four children enrolled during the restructuring process, enrollment at Malone’s early childhood center is now is up to 14, with capacity to add six more.

“All of our parents are working except for two,” Goins explained. “For those that are looking for a job, we asked them to volunteer two hours a day to contribute.”

The Malone Center recently announced a new formal agreement with the University of Nebraska – Lincoln’s College of Education and Human Studies. The agreement forms a collaboration between the partners to strengthen the center’s programs while providing a training ground for interns, student teachers and graduate students.

“This agreement is a step to ensuring we will close the opportunity gap for our babies,” said Goins. “But more importantly, we’ll close the ‘belief gap’ where our children do not see a future for themselves.”

Through Malone’s Pipeline to Possibilities vision, children will receive a clear message on the importance of academic success while parents receive the supports and education they need to do the most good for their families.

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