From Mainspring Schools, this month's Get Involved spotlight organization:
The mission of Mainspring Schools is to deliver the highest quality early education and care to Austin’s most economically disadvantaged children – along with services so each child and parent have tools for success in school and life.
Founded in 1941 as Chalmers Nursery School by the Austin Association of University Women and Austin ISD, it was the first day care in the nation to be built within a federal housing project, and was one of the first local agencies to be funded by the United Way.
Since 2006, Mainspring has had top-level accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children, held by only 8% of child care centers in the US. As a best-in-class nonprofit preschool, Mainspring strives to eliminate the early childhood school readiness gap through low child-to-teacher ratios, child-directed learning, research-based social skills curriculum, healthy meals, plenty of outside play time, and weekly dance and music classes.
According to the Comprehensive Child Development Program, “By age 4, the average low-income child is 18 months behind their more affluent peers.” If a child starts kindergarten behind, they are likely to stay behind for the rest of their lives. More than 25% of low-income students will not graduate from high school.
However, 95% of Mainspring Schools graduates start kindergarten at or above the Texas Pre-K readiness level.
Mainspring’s family-centered engagement includes case management, parenting support groups and counseling, and parent education seminars on topics like nutrition, discipline, caregiver self-care, and advocacy. Families enrolled at the school come from all over Austin and represent different backgrounds, ethnicities and socio-economic levels, and 75% of students receive tuition subsidies. This commitment to diversity is crucial to the goal of developing self-aware, well-rounded children.
Affordable quality childcare is a huge issue in local and national efforts to address poverty. Mainspring Schools was recently featured in a front-page article about this subject in the Statesman:
Today, Mainspring is an in-district charter campus within Austin ISD. It has the highest-possible 4-star rating in the Texas Rising Star program. And it was selected by the Texas Education Agency to be part of its exclusive Replicating Great Options program.
Mainspring is part of the I Live Here I Give Here Amplify Austin Campaign, to fund the school’s food program, which serves three nutritious, home-cooked meals a day.