December 02 2021 0comment

United Way of the Wabash Valley Awarded $100,0000 Grant to “Close the Gap” in Vigo County

Partnership with Nurture with Nature: Highland Church Childcare Ministry to help open new childcare on the eastside of Vigo County

Early Learning Indiana awarded a $100,000 grant to United Way of the Wabash Valley as part of the $1.7 million Closing the Gap grant fund to address local child care access issues, increasing capacity and quality, and ensuring affordability and choice for families. The grant fund was established after Early Learning Indiana released “Closing the Gap: An Assessment of Indiana’s Early Learning Opportunities” in August 2021. The report shed light on the child care access issues facing Indiana families.

“The challenge is great, but the opportunity to build a system of more equitable access for Hoosier children is even greater,” said Maureen Weber, president, and CEO of Early Learning Indiana. “Our Closing the Gap grant recipients have put together collaborative solutions to solve some of the greatest barriers to access to high-quality early learning in their communities, and we are proud to help kick start their work.”

Grant recipients submitted applications outlining how they would address their community’s biggest child care access issues. United Way of the Wabash Valley will use its $100,000 grant to help facilitate Nurture with Nature: Highland Church Childcare Ministry to open a new childcare site on the eastside of Vigo County on US Highway 40.  The location will open in the new year and will provide 23 new infant/toddler openings and 20 new preschool openings for children in the area.  This grant will provide funding for classroom furnishings and fencing for playground safety.

Dorothy Chambers, United Way of the Wabash Valley Community Impact Staff member for Success By 6 stated, “there is a need for more high-quality childcare options across the Wabash Valley.  We know that when children receive the high-quality care they are better prepared for kindergarten and lifelong learning success.  The United Way’s Success By 6 Council is always seeking ways to partner with local providers to increase access, affordability, and choice when it comes to high-quality care.  The Closing the Gap grant from Early Learning Indiana provided a great opportunity to assist a childcare project that will help fulfill a need in a fast-growing area of the county by providing new high-quality seats.”

Dawn Langer, Owner of Nurture with Nature: Highland Church Childcare Ministry, explained, “having other already established childcare locations, I understand the need in our community for high-quality childcare and also the work it takes to expand.  In partnership with my church, we are opening this facility to provide a new childcare ministry in the voluntary certification program with hopes of also reaching Paths to Quality rating 3 later this summer.  Working with United Way to secure this grant funding is allowing us to open a full facility to the public in an area that is seeing an increased need for high-quality childcare. We are fortunate to have so many organizations willing to help us complete this project.”

Early Learning Indiana’s Closing the Gap report centered around the Early Learning Access Index, which helped qualify and quantify child care access throughout the state, assessing the additional factors of quality, affordability and choice as well.

Notable findings of the report included:

  • The statewide Early Learning Access Index is 60.6 out of 100, equaling moderate access to early learning and care statewide. In Vigo County, the Early Learning Access Index is 57.4.
  • In more than two-thirds of Indiana counties, existing child care capacity can serve fewer than half the children ages 0-5 who need care.
  • 14 counties have no high-quality infant/toddler care.

The 18 grant recipients represent 18 unique counties in Indiana. In total, their proposals will create 926 new child care seats for 269 infants and toddlers and 657 preschool and pre-K children.

View a PDF of awardees, their locations, and project descriptions here.

The funding was made possible through a 2019 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to support Early Learning Indiana’s statewide work to improve accessibility to high-quality early learning programs in Indiana.


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United Way of the Wabash Valley is empowering the Wabash Valley to create lasting solutions by doing more!  The organization goes beyond temporary fixes to create lasting change in our communities throughout our six-county region. By bringing together volunteers, companies, and organizations focused on innovative solutions, we impact thousands of lives every year right here in the Wabash Valley.  Our new bold goal is to move 10,000 local families out of financial struggles.  For more information, please visit,

About Early Learning Indiana
Early Learning Indiana is Indiana’s oldest and largest early childhood education nonprofit, providing leadership, advocacy and early childhood education services to continually improve the early learning landscape in Indiana. Today, Early Learning Indiana operates 10 high-quality Day Early Learning centers, a network of premier community-based schools used to advance the science of early learning, train the next generation of teachers and leaders, and instill essential skills in the children we serve. Through regional and statewide programs, the organization enables early learning providers to build capacity, transform operations and improve learning outcomes. Learn more at