A $10 million gift from an anonymous donor has kick-started the fundraising effort to expand the UNLV/CSUN Preschool at the Lynn Bennett Early Childhood Education Center (LBECEC). The expansion will allow the preschool to double its capacity, serving about 350-400 children each year.
“The preschool is a hidden gem in our community,” explained the donor’s spokesperson, noting the center’s status in the top five percent of accredited preschools in the country. “When young children have a safe and nurturing environment that promotes their physical, social, emotional, and intellectual development, they can embark on the rest of their education journeys with a solid foundation and promising future.”
Making Room to Grow
Slated to begin construction later this year, the preschool expansion project will extend the facility’s footprint extensively and add:
- 10 new classrooms
- Four new shaded play areas, including an infant play area
- Garden areas outside each classroom
- Improved operational spaces for community events and training
The current space will get a makeover of its own with new carpeting and flooring, insulation, and classroom upgrades.
“Access to affordable, high-quality early childhood education sets the foundation for a lifetime of success," said UNLV President Keith E. Whitfield. "This transformative gift will dramatically expand operations at the preschool and make it possible for more families – including UNLV students – to experience Southern Nevada’s premier learning community.”
Expanding Assessment and Research
Some of the preschool’s most impactful work is providing an inclusive learning environment for all children. In her 15-plus years as the preschool’s director, Claire Tredwell has seen firsthand how Identifying children with disabilities and developmental delays is critical to supporting them and their families with resources and a quality program.
“We work with community partners for assessment and therapy services," Tredwell said. "From our weekly playgroups to special family learning nights, our reach extends far beyond our physical space.”
In addition to providing more high-quality care at one of Southern Nevada’s NAEYC-accredited, five-star preschools, the expansion will also expand opportunities for research.
“We help research teams think innovatively to answer vital questions that promote optimal outcomes for young children,” remarked associate professor Jenna Weglarz-Ward, LBECEC’s research coordinator. “This includes multilingual children and children with disabilities, their families, and the professionals that support them.”
Showing Support for Students of All Ages
“We are grateful for the generous donor investment of $10 million to get the preschool expansion off the ground,” said Rickey N. McCurry, UNLV Foundation president. “But with a project of this magnitude, additional funds are needed to reach our goal of $18 million and establish the LBECEC as the preeminent early childhood facility in Las Vegas.”
There are numerous ways donors can provide support. Naming opportunities are available for playgrounds, classrooms, and common spaces. Or, donors can opt to fund special programs at the preschool, such as early childhood education research and special education assessments that support Southern Nevada families.
There is also an option to sponsor an engraved paver stone that will be placed in the preschool’s new entrance pathway.
Visit the project webpage to learn more about the overall effort, including how to show your support.