Community Chest Strives to Make Quality Early Childhood Education Accessible


Quality, affordable early childhood education is a major need for families, especially in remote communities. Children have the potential for peak developmental growth in the years leading up to kindergarten; not just academically, but also psychologically and emotionally.

Community Chest in Northern Nevada aims to meet this need with its “Comstock Kids Early Childhood Education Center.” The center strives to provide the best possible childcare, as well as youth development programs to support local families.

Campaign Initiative – Comstock Kids Early Childhood Education Center

Comstock Kids Early Childhood Education Center (ECE) is derived from nearly 10 years of gathered insight. This insight showed time and time again that the number one requested service within their rural Nevada County community was for licensed daycare facilities.

After extensive consideration, fundraising, planning, and with help from local foundations, Community Chest updated their newly renovated 10,000 square foot community center to ensure it was in compliance with the Nevada State child care licensing laws.

“We know that to be successful, we'd have to figure out a way for the ECE program to cover its operating costs without having to rely solely on grants. Our strategy was to offer "aspirationally-based" services at a fraction of the standard market price (at least 50% less), figuring that parents would gladly and willingly pay for their children's care if it meant that their children were getting the best possible care -- humane, responsive, invested, compassionate, playful, creative, respectful, dependable, ethical, and more.”

- Erik Schoen, Executive Director, Community Chest

Creativity and Sustainability

The center opened in 2019 to numbers that were lower than projected. Fortunately, throughout the pandemic, Community Chest was able to continue providing safe, in-person childcare services. This skyrocketed enrollment which not only helped the families in their community, but also created another stream of revenue for the nonprofit to rely on, outside of the grants they would typically receive.

In terms of generating revenue, one of Comstock Kids ECE Center’s goals is to have all of the direct operational costs covered through the revenue earned from childcare tuition. Any additional grant money raised would then help pay for ECE enhancements, upgrades and more.

One key initiative that helped dramatically increase revenue, getting Comstock Kids ECE Center closer to their goal, was the adoption of an easy-to-use app that allows parents to see what they owe and pay their balances. Prior to utilizing this app, collecting parent payments proved to be a time-consuming and labor-intensive process for the Community Chest staff.

Several benefits achieved by this campaign initiative include:

  • Provision of licensed, quality early childhood education services in a remote rural Nevada County.
  • Increased belief in what is possible on the behalf of all staff, parents, community supporters, and children in seeing the ECE Center go from vision to reality.
  • Increased confidence in staff by realizing that what they were doing was not only making a difference to the children and parents they were serving.
  • Ability to see that the revenue-generating model meant that they were, in essence, more self-sufficient and able to provide services far into the future.
  • Increased peace of mind for parents in knowing that their children were in a safe place that would foster their social, mental and emotional development.

“When we first opened up in Fall 2019, we weren't quite breaking even as enrollments were below the targeted level. That all changed with the COVID-19 pandemic. Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, after shutting down for two or three weeks in March 2020, the ECE center was the first of our many programs to resume providing services in-person while following all of the recommended protocols. This was at a time when other daycare providers throughout the Northern Nevada area were shutting down and parents were desperate to find a safe, reliable place to enroll their children. Demand for our ECE center rose like a rocket, and all open slots were soon filled. As a result of all of this -- doing the right thing for the right reasons, being there for parents when they needed us, our Comstock Kids ECE Center is well on its way to being self-sufficient.”

– Erik Schoen, Executive Director, Community Chest

Key Insights for Nonprofits

When developing sustainable, revenue-generating programs for your nonprofit, be sure to implement Community Chest’s resourceful tactics:

  1. Survey your community needs to gauge how to best serve them through your organization’s mission
  2. Utilize technology to maximize efficiency
  3. Prioritize quality and excellence, taking time to develop new initiatives
  4. Make use of existing space to develop and grow programs

About Community Chest

Community Chest is a non-profit agency serving children and families in northwestern Nevada since 1991. They provide holistic solutions with the goal of building and sustaining strong families and communities. With the support of volunteers, agency staff, public and private revenue, Community Chest develops, offers, and sponsors services that make a difference in the lives of Nevada’s youth and families. They provide a diverse range of services including counseling, family advocacy, youth enrichment programs and employment placement assistance. Learn more.

Has your nonprofit developed new innovative campaign initiatives? Be sure to enter our 2022 Resourcefullness Awards. The application process is set to open July 14, 2022 and all U.S. states will be eligible to apply. The firm will award a $50,000 prize to one 501(c)(3) organization.

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