Our History

  • 1986

    Calvary Bilingual Multicultural Learning Center

    Beatriz “BB” Otero opens Calvary Bilingual Multicultural Learning Center (later rebranded as CentroNía) in the basement of a church in Columbia Heights, DC, to provide affordable childcare for 15 children. The center quickly becomes a greener pasture for immigrant families and families from the district’s historic Black community, providing resources and support to ease immigrants’ transition and offer opportunity to all families.

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  • 1990

    Programs Expand

    Programs expanded to include before- and after-school services and educational programming for adults to address growing community needs.

    1990 Gallery Image 1
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  • 1995

    New Building

    Thanks to a generous donation by Verizon, Inc. (then Bell Atlantic Telephone Company), Calvary Bilingual Multicultural Learning Center moves into its primary campus at 1420 Columbia Road, NW. Enrollment grows to 100 preschoolers, youth and parents.

    1995 Gallery Image 1
  • 1998

    CentroNía's CDA program was established

    CentroNía’s CDA program was designed through consultation with child development centers to collaboratively identify major challenges that educators face such as understanding content related to brain development, atypical child development, and language acquisition, connecting child development theory to best educational practices, particularly for culturally and linguistically diverse families and much more. To respond to these challenges, CentroNía structured the program into 7 modules and enhanced it with extra coursework for a total of 130 instructional hours.

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  • 2001

    Early Childhood Education Program

    Calvary Bilingual Multicultural Learning Center launches our Early Childhood Education Program for infants and toddlers aged 0-3.

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  • 2004

    DC Bilingual Public Charter School

    Calvary Bilingual Multicultural Learning Center launches DC Bilingual Public Charter School.

    2004 Gallery Image 1
  • 2006

    A Rebranding

    Calvary Bilingual Multicultural Learning Center rebrands as CentroNía. Our name comes from a combination of Spanish, Swahili, and Esperanto. Centro means “center” in Spanish, and Nía means “our” in Esperanto and “purpose” in Swahili.

    2006 Gallery Image 1
  • 2007

    A New Center in Maryland

    As families are increasingly pushed out of the District due to rising costs of living, we open a new center in Takoma Park, Maryland to serve the growing immigrant community in Montgomery County and Prince George’s County.

    2007 Gallery Image 1
  • 2008

    Food & Wellness

    Our Food & Wellness Program begins preparing nutritious meals onsite designed to support the optimal learning and development of young children.

    2008 Gallery Image 1
  • 2010

    Early Head Start

    We launch our Early Head Start program in Montgomery County, Maryland.

  • 2011

    First Lady Michelle Obama Visits

    First Lady Michelle Obama launches her Let's Move! childcare campaign at CentroNía's Columbia Rd. center, recognizing our Food & Wellness program as a national wellness leader for early learners and their families.

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  • 2014

    A New Center in DC

    We opened a new early childhood center on Upshur Street, serving infants and toddlers and housing our DC Early Head Start program.

    2014 Gallery Image 1
  • 2015

    DC Bilingual PCS

    DC Bilingual Public Charter School becomes an independent entity.

  • 2016

    A New Center in DC

    In partnership with DC Public Schools, we open a center at Cardozo Education Campus to provide education and support services to teenage parents enrolled at the high school.

    2016 Gallery Image 1
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  • 2016

    NiaCentral is Established

    NiaCentral, a subsidiary of CentroNía, is established to provide catering services to early childhood education centers and schools throughout D.C.

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  • 2017

    CDA Gold Standard Training Certification

    Our Child Development Associate (CDA) training program is one of only seven nationwide to receive the Council for Professional Recognition’s CDA Gold Standard Training Certification.

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  • 2017

    Theatrical Journey Playbook

    We publish the Theatrical Journey Playbook: Introducing Science to Early Learners through Guided Pretend Play.

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  • 2018

    Martha Gudelsky Child Development Center

    Montgomery County approves a joint proposal by CentroNía and the Gudelsky Family Foundation for the redevelopment of the historic Silver Spring library on Colesville Road as the Martha Gudelsky Child Development Center.

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  • 2019

    High-Quality Designations

    Our Columbia Road and Upshur Street centers are awarded high-quality designations under Capital Quality, D.C.’s newly unveiled Quality Rating Improvement System (QRIS).

  • 2019

    CentroNía's CDA program developed the nation’s first fully Amharic CDA course

    CentroNía’s Amharic initiative was conceived due to a rising number of prospective or current educators whose educational backgrounds testified to their potential, but whose language proficiency precluded them from benefitting fully from CentroNía’s intentional and comprehensive CDA training. The program then decided to pilot the nation’s first cohort in Amharic.

    In 2021 in collaboration with the Council of Recognition, CentroNía produced an official Amharic-language credentialing exam.

    2019 Gallery Image 1
  • 2020

    COVID-19 Response

    In response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, we dramatically ramp up community relief and temporarily adjust our service delivery model to include distance learning and full-day extended care services for students enrolled at DC public schools.

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  • 2021

    A New Center in DC

    We partner with DC Public Schools (DCPS) to provide services for primarily high-risk infants and toddlers at the new Stevens Early Learning Center.

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  • 2021

    Vice President Kamala Harris Visits

    Vice President Kamala Harris visits CentroNía's Columbia Rd. center to unveil several exciting elements about the American Rescue Plan that will support children and families as the nation works toward recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Looking Forward

Our experience and success in the early childhood field over the past 35 years has positioned us to be an effective advocate, thought leader, and champion for quality outcomes in early childhood education. However, the social, health, and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ask more of all of us. With the help of our partners and supporters, we are confident that we can meet the rising need in our community!