Andrew Jay, CEO
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Tiny Trees Preschool
From Acorns to Oaks
In October of 2014 Tiny Trees Preschool won Social Venture Partners’ Fast Pitch competition for best non-profit start up. At the time, the dream of affordable, nature rich, outdoor preschool was just that – a dream. It became a reality in September 2016, when Tiny Trees opened preschools in four city parks in low income neighborhoods across Seattle, followed by 3 more schools in September, 2017. Now every day, in all weather, 260 children attend joyfully muddy classes, learning the social, emotional, and academic skills for a lifetime of success while enjoying a glorious childhood: one full of play, adventure, and wonder in the natural world.
Tiny Trees is a bold and innovative response to a critical problem: childcare is expensive. In Seattle, families spend $12,000-$26,000 a year on full-day preschool. That is more than tuition at the University of Washington and only slightly less than housing. These soaring costs lead to women (and increasingly men) dropping out of the workforce during their most productive years, adds significant financial anxiety to the stresses of parenthood, and disproportionately impacts low-income families and communities of color, with 60% Washington’s children entering kindergarten 2 years behind their peers (http://Kidscount.org). See http://TinyTrees.org for more information.
Tiny Trees is leading the movement for affordable, high quality preschool. By building outdoor classrooms in city parks, Tiny Trees eliminates the brick and mortar facility, cutting operating costs by 25% and capital/start-up costs by 80%. This allows us to:
• Keep tuition prices low and offer financial assistance or free tuition to 46% of families. Children also receive free meals & outdoor clothing and equipment.
• Invest in what really matters: great teachers. All of our teachers have four-year degrees; 25% have a Master’s degree. All teachers receive 26 days of professional development per year, are full-time employees with medical and retirement benefits, and are paid above market rate.
• Replicate and grow easily with low start-up costs & a financial model where each school is sustained on tuition and government grants for children in poverty.
The best part is that Tiny Trees gives children a vibrant, mud puddle splashing, sand castle building, & creepy crawly catching childhood: one full of hands-on learning, exploration, and wonder in the natural world. Our children have inherited a planet facing significant ecological challenges and their generation will need capable, emotionally intelligent, and creative conservation leaders. Tiny Trees Preschool presents a solution – daily, intimate exploration of the natural world by children from diverse backgrounds during their most formative years.