THE HISTORY OF THE ALLIANCE FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD
The Alliance for Early Childhood was founded in 1989 as the Winnetka Alliance for Early Childhood. During the late 1970's and early 1980's birth rates dropped and early childhood programs were impacted by lower enrollment numbers and the future of the programs were in question. A few leaders of the early childhood community, including Don Monroe, superintendent of the Winnetka Public Schools, and Catherine Reichelderfer, a long-time board member at Winnetka Public School Nursery, called together a group of early childhood leaders in the community. They met a few times and discussed whether they could pool their resources during these hard times, in hopes of retaining at least some of these programs. As it happened, people began having babies again, enrollments increased, and none of the programs had to close down. The immediate crisis was over, so the need for collaboration was temporarily dropped.
In1988, Kenneth Montgomery, a philanthropist and friend of Catherine Reichelderfer, offered to donate $50,000 in Catherine's name to any cause or charity of her choosing. Catherine remembered those earlier discussions about an early childhood collaborative. She met with Don Monroe and together they decided that Mr. Montgomery's money would help make their dream of an early childhood alliance become a reality. Don and Catherine assembled a distinguished group of early childhood advocates, our "incorporators." The incorporators met for several months, discussing the goals and structure of an early childhood alliance.
In 2011, The Winnetka Alliance for Early Childhood changed its name to The Alliance for Early Childhood, in recognition of its growth well beyond the borders of Winnetka. Currently, we serve Winnetka, Northfield, Kenilworth, and neighboring communities on the North Shore of Chicago.
Thirty years later from our founding, The Alliance for Early Childhood continues to serve as a collaborative, community organization that supports and guides families and educators to nurture the healthy, well-rounded development of children from birth to eight years old. As a community, we can “put the child back in childhood” and build a strong developmental foundation for our children’s lifelong learning, accomplishment, and joy.