LEO's new Early Head Start Facility
Lynn Economic Opportunity (LEO) is an anti poverty agency that provides services to those in the city of Lynn who need it most. Now, with the help of stimulus funds, it can help its youngest citizens thrive.

Recovery Act Impact: Lynn Economic Opportunity

  • Total funding: $4.1 million

  • Early Head Start: $3 million

  • Community Services Block Grant: $715,500

  • Weatherization Assistance Program: $416,092

The agency received a total of $4.1 million in stimulus grants and nearly $3 million was allocated to develop an Early Head Start program. The funds, in combination with a bank loan, were used to acquire a new facility for the program as well as hire staff and purchase supplies. On June 30, 2011, a ribbon cutting event was held to officially open the new facility, the Stepping Stones Child Care Center.

"These little guys are the future," said Jack Mogielnicki, CEO of LEO, at the event, referring to the children at Stepping Stones. "Some of these kids will go to college; some of these kids will make the world a better place."

LEO's new Early Head Start Facility
According to Mogielnicki, when a sign went up in LEO advertising the new Early Head Start program, "in no time at all, we had 200 people on the wait list. These programs are absolutely needed."

Stepping Stones has six classrooms that can each accommodate eight children from birth to age three. There is a heavy emphasis in the Center on family participation. To that end, the Center has classes for the parents, special events and a parent policy board.

Alissa Phelan, LEO's education and disabilities manager, said that there was a "huge need in the community for an Early Head Start program." She noted that the children who complete the Early Head Start program can transition to LEO's Head Start program and then to its afterschool program. "We can give them services from birth to age 12," she said.

LEO's new Early Head Start Facility
It is this consistency of services, said Marilyn Foster, president of LEO's board and manager of the North Shore Career Center, which provides these children with the opportunities they will need to succeed.

"It's about children getting an opportunity to learn," she said. "Here they're well cared for and stimulated in a clean, safe environment and they get good meals. And this never would have happened without the ARRA money. We put a lot of people to work, like electricians, plumbers, painters, we hired a whole staff and we brought a beautiful Center to our community. It's a beautiful use of ARRA money."