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A Brief History of the Alburgh Family Clubhouse Project

Summer 2024

The Alburgh Family Clubhouse Project was conceived in 2016 by the Alburgh Promise Community Team convened with support from Vermont’s federal RTT – Early Learning Challenge grant. A community early care and education (ECE) center was the top strategy selected by the team to improve developmental and educational outcomes for Alburgh’s young children and build stability, strength, and resilience for local families. Representatives from the regional Building Bright Futures Council, Alburgh Community Education Center (ACEC - the local public school), parents of young children, Alburgh town government, and other concerned citizens participated in the two-year Promise Community effort.


In 2018 community volunteers formed Alburgh Family Clubhouse, Inc (AFC) as a grassroots, community-driven, non-profit organization with a singular mission - to improve educational access and opportunity, particularly for children at risk for poor developmental and learning outcomes, by promoting and providing  access to affordable, high-quality Early Care and Education (ECE)  for young children and their families in Alburgh. From 2018 – 2021, the AFC Board partnered with the Alburgh Select Board, the Northwest Regional Planning Commission (NRPC), Alburgh School Board, and ACEC to explore constructing an ECE center on school property.


The AFC Board maintains an interactive Facebook page and a website. We invite community members to monthly Board meetings, and regularly update the community on all aspects of the project’s progress. The voters of Alburgh approved building on school property on Town Meeting Day in 2021. Despite this groundswell of local enthusiasm, late in 2021 it became clear that the plan to build on school property faced significant administrative hurdles that paused the project just as AFC was ready to launch an after-school programs.


The AFC Board, with full support from NRPC and the Town Select Board, decided to pursue other site options. ACEC continues to advocate for the project and the organizations will partner around early education and afterschool programming when the center opens. The Bellavance family stepped forward offering to donate a different site in Alburgh Village close to the school. The AFC Project continued to evoke strong positive support from the local community as it navigated this shift and moved toward realization of the Alburgh Promise Community vision.


The project addresses significant unmet need for affordable child-care in Grand Isle County, particularly in Alburgh. Our success will improve educational access and opportunity, kindergarten readiness and educational achievement for Alburgh’s at risk children. AFC will construct and operate a non-profit, full day, full year, high quality ECE program in a new, state-of -the-art childcare facility on Missile Road in Alburgh. The building is designed, and the new site has been fully vetted, and all required permits are in place. The program will provide early education and childcare for 62 children from birth to Grade 5 including 16 spaces for infants, 10 for toddlers, 18 for preschoolers, and 18 for school age children. Day to day management will be provided by an Executive Director employed by the AFC Board. AFC is focused on affordability for all families and intends that the center is a welcoming community space that builds social connections and resilience for Alburgh families.


The Board intends to minimize debt by raising more than two thirds of project costs and capital funds in grants and donations. This reduces costs associated with sustained operations and lowers cost of care. AFC, the Town of Alburgh and NRPC remain active partners. With advisement from an ECE consultant hired to support project management and fundraising in 2020, the AFC Board has developed a comprehensive sustainable business plan focused on affordable, high-quality services for a diverse population supported by layered revenue including public subsidies for eligible families. The Board works with a team of expert consultants to shape and implement their ambitious vision. This project is perfectly poised to bring the state investments in childcare passed by the Vermont legislature in 2023 into play to serve the children and families of Alburgh and surrounding towns in 2025. The passion and persistence of Project Leaders has created a model for other small rural communities to emulate in expanding access to high quality early care and education for young children and families. This is a Vermont story worth telling.


The project was approved for a $1,000,000 long term, low interest loan from the US Department of Agriculture, Rural Development in June 2024. This was the final piece of the development and construction financing plan  bringing the total amount raised to over $2.7 million dollars. This includes $189,000 in Congressionally Directed Spending for FFY22 requested by Senator Sanders, and many other state, federal, and private grants and donations. When we went out to bid for construction, the final estimate was just over $1,000,000 more than our estimates. Even as our Building Team negotiates Value Engineering to reduce the cost overrun, AFC is launching a major sponsorship campaign to regional employers and businesses for the additional capital. We appreciate the support of the Champlain Island and Franklin Economic Development Council in this effort. Despite navigation through COVID-19 challenges, setbacks, and administrative hurdles, the AFC Board and its many community and regional supporters remain steadfastly committed to bringing this shared vison to reality for Alburgh children and their families.

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