LYNN SCHOOL GETS A REASON TO ASPIRE
A rendering of Aspire Developmental Services’ plan to convert the former O’Keefe School on Franklin Street into an early intervention center.
BY PAUL HALLORAN
LYNN — Aspire Developmental Services’ efforts to raise funds for a new headquarters got a major boost when the agency was awarded a $1 million state grant. Aspire, which provides Early Intervention services to children up to age 3, was one of six agencies to receive the Early Education and Care and Out of School Time grant from the state Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation, in partnership with the Children’s Investment Fund. The state awarded competitive grants totaling $3.6 million to be used for major capital facilities projects. Aspire got the largest grant and was the only agency to receive the maximum of $1 million.
“We are extremely grateful to receive this funding,” said Lori Russell, acting executive director of Aspire. “This will play a major role in bringing our new building closer to reality. It was a very competitive process. We’re thrilled to be the only agency to receive $1 million.”
“We are very pleased that Aspire will be expanding their operation and capacity to provide critical services to children and families in Lynn and the surrounding area,” said Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy. Russell said while the grant is a big help, the capital campaign is ongoing, with the agency hoping to raise at least an additional $1 million for the $4.2 million project.
“This grant is very important, and we are extremely grateful, but we still have funds to raise in order to reach our goal,” said capital campaign committee member Debby Regan, co-owner ofMeninno Construction. “We plan to continue to make the case that this is a project worthy of the community’s support.” Aspire will renovate the former O’Keefe School building on Franklin Street. The new facility will provide 15,000 square feet of space — triple what it has now on Johnson Street. The additional space will allow Aspire to double the play group opportunities for children receiving Early Intervention Services. Aspire will also increase its capacity for child care from 20 to 49 toddlers and pre-school students.
The purpose of the grant is to improve the quality of early education settings.“The new building will allow us to serve more families in more modern and appropriate space,” Russell said. “We will also be able to provide parent-child groups and parent training workshops.”
“The Early Education and Care and Out of School Time grants are a critical resource for helping ensure that our early learning program environments support children’s learning,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito in announcing the grant recipients.
“By providing high quality facilities for children to grow and thrive in, we are both helping foster their success and building a more prosperous future for all of us.”
Aspire provided services to more than 1,850 children last year. Two-thirds of the families served were minority and 78 percent were below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
Groundbreaking is scheduled for this fall.
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