The One Hope United Project involved the transformation of a vacant elementary school located on a federally designated brownfield site in a low-income community in Joliet into a holistic childcare center for children ages 6 weeks to 6 years operated by One Hope United. The nonprofit group provides high-quality early childhood care to predominately low-income individuals. Prior to funding, an IFF report ranked Joliet as first in need among Illinois municipalities for general childcare for children ages 0 to 5 years.
Within this new facility, One Hope provides early childhood education services to 208 children per year, 90% of which are members of low-income families. The lack of quality childcare was a significant concern for this community experiencing unemployment and median household income average above national benchmarks. The Project brought a city asset back to life while providing a valuable service to the community.
As iterated throughout community plans and neighborhood articles, the achievement gap between low-income children and their peers begins as early as 9 months of age. Despite these shortfalls, the State of Illinois further cut funding for preschool initiatives by $80 million between 2009 and 2013 (time of funding). These statewide cuts, along with the strong support of community stakeholders, brought forth the need for quality, affordable childcare and early childhood education services.