In April 1986, CentroNía opened its doors to local families—primarily low-income, working immigrants—in need of affordable childcare for their infants and toddlers. Today, 30 years later, our life-changing programs reach more than 2,400 children and families, providing educational benefits that can be seen in the child’s subsequent school years and beyond.

In honor of its 30th anniversary, CentroNía is launching a yearlong Birthday Challenge crowdfunding campaign. Friends of CentroNía have been pledging their birthdays to help raise funds AND awareness in support of CentroNía’s high-quality and affordable early childhood programs. During CentroNía’s birthday month, we are joining the challenge with the goal of raising $30,000.

Donate today and YOU will support our community’s youngest learners and their families as they grow, learn, and succeed. Families just like Justine’s, who wanted the very best for their child and yet struggled to find affordable and high-quality childcare nearly 30 years ago.

When Justine was born, her father, an immigrant from El Salvador, and her mother worked full-time and knew they needed childcare in order to continue providing for their growing family. They quickly learned, however, that childcare was expensive and extremely difficult to find. With few options, Justine’s parents resolved to leave Justine with an individual who was watching a number of neighborhood children during her earliest months.

“I remember my mother sharing that they felt pressure and anxiety about wanting the best for me, especially during such a critical time in my growth and development.”

Then Justine’s parents learned about CentroNía—a newly established bilingual, affordable early childhood education center in a nearby Columbia Heights church basement. On their first visit to the center, they knew it was the place for their toddler daughter to develop—mentally, emotionally, and socially. Justine was enrolled at CentroNía at age two, in one of the very first CentroNía classes. Justine felt loved, safe, nurtured, and accepted. CentroNía was more than an early childhood center—it was a center where she could speak Spanish, learn English, and celebrate her Salvadoran heritage. It was home and the CentroNía community was her family.

It is your gift to CentroNía that ensures families like Justine’s have the child care and support services they need. YOUR support does make a real difference!

Justine attributes her years at CentroNía for instilling an excitement and passion for learning, which inspired her to pursue a career working in and advocating for affordable, accessible early childhood education in Washington, D.C. Justine received a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Pittsburgh and a master’s degree in social work from Columbia University. Initially, Justine thought she’d work with school-aged youth, but after a short internship in New York with Head Start, she knew she wanted to work with early learners, five years and younger. Today, she works as a case manager for the Head Start program in DC, providing support for Spanish-speaking families as they navigate D.C.’s public school system.

“CentroNía inspired me to do the work I do today —connecting and grounding me in the DC community and showing the importance of being a strong advocate for high-quality education for all families.”

The love of learning introduced to Justine at CentroNía during her earliest years stayed with her as she grew with CentroNía’s Out-of-School-Time program, later as part of CentroNía’s staff, and now working with families in situations similar to her own growing up. The skills she developed at CentroNía helped her succeed in primary and secondary school, college, and into her career today. With YOUR help all our children can experience what Justine experienced!

It is important that there are high-quality, affordable opportunities for all children and finding such opportunities is extremely challenging for low-income, working families. CentroNía is committed to providing high-quality education and success services for those very families who need it most—all within a community centered on respect and possibility. While the circumstances that bring each family to CentroNía may be different, their hopes are the same.

Please donate this April in celebration of CentroNía’s 30th Anniversary and help us reach our Birthday Challenge goal of $30,000. Your gift will provide hope and opportunity to the children, youth, and families who depend on CentroNía each year.

Thank you for stepping up to the challenge and making CentroNía’s birthday wish for the success of all our children and families come true!