August 19th, 2021
Dear Lakewood Families, Supporters and Friends:
The Lakewood Preschool Board of Directors announced today its decision to end in-person learning at the Kalynne Street location. This decision follows nearly a year of study and contemplation by the Board of Directors that included a third-party assessment, feedback from the Lakeview community, and consideration of a number of demographic and industry trends. Lakewood Preschool has selected Freedom Communities and the Lakeview Neighborhood Alliance to receive all assets. These partnerships will allow current community leaders to provide a broader range of services and better serve the Lakeview neighborhood.
When it began this process in August 2020, the Lakewood Preschool Board engaged a consultant to help address and resolve several long-standing issues. The Board’s intention was to strengthen the current programming and preschool structure. After several months of interviews with educators, investors, community leaders, residents, and other key stakeholders, the Board came to the conclusion that the best way to serve its mission of providing 5-star early education to the Lakeview children while also supporting the community is by partnering with two leading community organizations.
“The original design of the Lakewood Preschool was as a place-based early learning cooperative in partnership with families in the Lakeview community,” said John Forneris, Lakewood Preschool Board Chair. “A number of factors including declining census, additional early learning options, and a shifting business model resulted in the Board of Directors making this decision. “
While it is a big change to transition out of the Lakewood Preschool Cooperative model and say goodbye to a school that has served hundreds of children and families over the past 26 years, the Board is excited about the new opportunities this change will bring to the residents of the Lakeview community. As Lakewood Preschool operations wind down, the assets of the organization will be distributed to two organizations that already share and expand upon the Lakewood Preschool mission: Freedom Communities and the Lakeview Neighborhood Alliance.
Financial assets transferred to Freedom Communities will support the build-out and completion of the organization’s Early Learning Center at the Tuck Opportunity Hub. This includes adding two new classrooms for 25 additional students bringing the total capacity to 75 students served. As a part of this partnership, Freedom Communities will ensure tuition-free access to services for all current children enrolled at Lakewood Preschool and will prioritize recruitment from the Lakeview Community in future years. Families can now choose to have their children in full-day programming and many other wraparound programs.
All families of children enrolled at the Early Learning Center will have access to on-site programming including Moms Moving Forward – a year-long program for single mothers and their children aimed at self-sufficiency. Families will also have access to all workforce programming offered by Freedom Communities including GED support, financial literacy, career coaching, and digital literacy. Families will also be invited to participate in future planned events to provide homeownership readiness training and linkage to down-payment assistance grants.
“The Lakewood Preschool Board of Directors believes the Early Learning Center at the Tuck Opportunity Hub is an incredible opportunity for families in the Lakeview neighborhood,” Forneris said. “These additional services far exceed our Preschool’s current capacity and create an integrated solution roughly one mile from our current school building.”
“The timing for this opportunity helps us complete a project we know will have a lasting impact on the entire Freedom Drive corridor,” said Hannah Beavers, Executive Director of Freedom Communities. “The Lakeview community is immediately adjacent to the Tuck Opportunity Hub and we are excited to welcome children and families from our neighboring community to our new early learning center this fall.”
Freedom Communities is partnering with Bright Future Learning Center for the early education component of their mission. This 5-star licensed early learning center serves infants through 3 year old children at the Tuck Opportunity Hub and Pre K students at their Greenland Avenue location. Bright Futures is owned and managed by Gloria and Ray Dukes, residents of the Freedom Drive corridor and community leaders who have built a social enterprise admired and respected by parents who she has steadfastly served and supported. Krystal Dukes is the Director for the Tuck Hub location. Bright Future Learning Center has agreed to prioritize hiring Lakewood Preschool teachers and staff.
“We are thrilled to partner with Freedom Communities on the launch of the Early Learning Center at the Tuck Opportunity Hub this fall,” said Gloria Dukes, owner and operator of Bright Future Early Learning Center. “We are also excited that teachers familiar with the children at Lakewood Preschool will be available to offer consistency during this transition.”
Additional assets from the winding down of operations of Lakewood Preschool will be allocated to the Lakeview Neighborhood Alliance, an organization with a mission to engage community members, connect them to resources and opportunities, and advocate for Lakeview’s growth and renewal. Financial assets from this transfer will be unrestricted to Lakeview Neighborhood Alliance with the hope that it will move the organization one step closer to its vision of realizing a community outreach center and increasing capacity for LNA and residents.
“While we mourn the loss of a community asset in the form of the Lakewood Preschool, we also see an opportunity to advance the culture of the Lakeview neighborhood and support residents in a more holistic way,” said Jamall Kinard, Executive Director of Lakeview Neighborhood Alliance.
Lakewood Preschool currently leases its building from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS). Lakewood Preschool’s Board of Directors is advocating for CMS to make the facility available to Lakeview Neighborhood Alliance as a center for its programming.
Lakewood Preschool is preparing to proceed with the formal dissolution process with the Secretary of State and expects this process to last until early fall 2021.
If you have questions, please contact Lakewood Preschool
Cooperative’s Interim Executive Director, Joanna Smith, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 704-391-0600.