Acelero Learning Camden-Philadelphia awarded $15.2 million in Early Head Start expansion funds

Acelero Learning Camden-Philadelphia has been awarded $15,151,685 in funding over a five-year period in order to add 176 new Early Head Start students to the program, including 88 slots in the state-of-the-art Salvation Army Kroc Center in Camden. The Acelero Learning Camden-Philadelphia (ALCP) program operates two Head Start only centers, one birth-to-five center, and one Early Head Start Center in Camden, NJ and two Head Start centers in North Philadelphia, bringing world-class early childhood programming to many of the highest need communities in the area. 

The Camden expansion has won praise from Senator Cory Booker, who notes: "Early Head Start serves a vital function by providing early education and comprehensive services to infants and toddlers across the country, including more than 2,800 families here in New Jersey. We understand the need for expanded access to these services in Camden, and we know these additional slots will provide much-needed relief and support to low-income families in New Jersey."

Acelero Learning staff work daily with low income families, and experience how overwhelming the need is for high-quality infant and toddler care. Three- and four-year-old children in Camden have access to universal Pre-K; but most low-income parents of infants and toddlers only have access to child care subsidy – which does not provide enough funding to ensure services that meet Early Head Start quality standards. In Camden, there are a total of only 121 Early Head Start slots, despite the fact that Camden is among the poorest communities in the country, and the need far outstrips that amount.

In order to support this grant, ALCP has partnered with community parents, leaders, and key partners to expand high-quality Early Head Start services. Major Terry Wood, Center Administrator for the Kroc Center, is enthusiastic about the incoming program: “We are honored to consider an experienced program [at] the caliber of ALCP to partner with us to further our shared mission to provide comprehensive services to children and their families in the City of Camden.”

The grant will be supplemented with $1,047,751 in start-up funds distributed across Acelero expansion sites in both Philadelphia and Camden. This additional funding will support the purchase of new classroom supplies, infant/toddler playground setup, and costs related to licensing and required background checks for staff. The program is also expected to bring approximately 30 new jobs to the Camden area.

The grant was awarded under the leadership of Victoria Ankrah, Executive Director of the ALCP program. “This grant expansion will be a game changer for the children and families within the city of Camden,” Ms. Ankrah states.  “Families will have the opportunity to leave their infants/toddlers in a high quality early childhood program throughout the day.  In addition, this grant will bring additional workforce and training opportunities to Camden.” Mrs. Ankrah has led the ALCP program as Executive Director since 2007.

Acelero’s newly expanded program offers a powerful set of services to Early Head Start families, including a unique approach to family engagement that extends classroom learning into the home in fun and age-appropriate ways, as well as a content-rich curriculum designed for infants and toddlers. Acelero Learning programs have been nationally recognized for innovation and excellence, and the Camden expansion will allow the program to bring those services to an even wider network of children and families in the area.

For additional information about this expansion and the Acelero Learning program, please contact the Acelero Learning Camden/Philadelphia central office at 215-235-3196 or email Ms. Ankrah directly at vankrah@acelero.net.