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New daycare for Berthold receives $100,000 donation

The new day-care facility for the Kids Academy in Berthold is $100,000 closer to being paid off, thanks to a grant received from the Otto Bremer Foundation.

9/14/11 (Wed)


The new day-care facility for the Kids Academy in Berthold is $100,000 closer to being paid off, thanks to a grant received from the Otto Bremer Foundation.


“Our project total is $430,000.00,” said Kelly Finke, vice-president of the Kids Academy board. “We’ve had some hefty donations from the community that have been appreciated, but [this grant] was a big weight lifted off. Every donation we receive has a place, and we’re very close to having the building paid for.”


Kids Academy incorporated as a non-profit organization in May 2010 to provide quality childcare and youth activities for kids in Berthold and the surrounding communities. The two existing day-care providers at the time had just announced plans to close their operations, and Kids Academy board members developed a plan to build a new child care facility for the community.


The 3,672-square foot building will include room for as many as 65 children with a kitchen, dining area and separate spaces for infants, toddlers, three- to five-year-olds, and an after-school program.


The project cost includes the pre-fabricated building, playground equipment and fencing, and indoor equipment and supplies. Several community businesses and organizations have already donated or pledged their support toward the project.


The board considered several grant opportunities as well, with Finke and board member Candice Asmundson working on the Otto Bremer Foundation application.


Jerry Stai, non-profit resource specialist with Bremer Bank in Minot, assisted them in preparing the paperwork. The application was forwarded to the Foundation office in St. Paul, MN, where three trustees made the final decisions about awards for this grant period.


Stai was pleased with the outcome for the Kids Academy. “Competition for these funds is incredible,” he said. “The trustees have some tough decisions to make. There are so many worthy needs to grant money to, but the day-care problem here is so immense they wanted to help with that. Sometimes the children get forgotten.”


“We know the community needs this,” Finke said as she described the lack of day-care options and the additional demand from new families arriving to work oilfield-related jobs. “We can project what’s coming, and we’ve got such good people in our community.”


“Candice and Kelly did an awesome job writing the grant,” said Stai. “They did a good job in justifying what they needed, and they have a compelling story.”


Brent Mattson, president of Bremer Bank in Minot, said the Otto Bremer Foundation receives several grant requests each year, but often looks for projects that focus on maintaining healthy communities. “And having day-care enhances a healthy community,” he said. “These kids need a good place.”


He noted Bremer Bank does not need to have a physical presence in a community in order to support a project. “We thought it was a viable project,” he said. “[The Kids Academy board] has put in a lot of work. The average grant awarded is about $30,000, so this shows the Otto Bremer Foundation is really behind this project.”


New building arrives

in October

The Kids Academy day-care will be located on Main Street, next to the Senior Citizens building, on lots donated by Ralph “Chub” Brown and the city of Berthold. The facility itself is being built by Cromer Valley Construction of Cromer, Manitoba, Canada, and is scheduled to arrive in late October. Work to prepare the site has started.


“The sooner the building gets done, the sooner the community can benefit from it,” said Finke.


While the new building won’t open until later this fall, Kids Academy actually started providing day-care services in October 2010 through a partnership with ABC Child Care Center of Minot and Zion Lutheran Church, which provides the facility. At the church, the Kids Academy is licensed for up to 18 children, with Lavonne Beyerle of ABC overseeing operations. Between five and nine children use the center at Berthold during the daytime and 18 kids fill the after-school slots. One part-time and two full-time staff members are employed there, with a current opening for another part-time employee.


Kids Academy board members anticipate a greater need for child care, however, which will be provided in the new building. Finke explained how the Kids Academy day-care facility would contribute to the package Berthold offers families considering a move to the area, especially those with jobs in the oil patch.


“We’ve got a good school and we’re working on housing, and now we have day-care,” she said. “This way, we could welcome the entire family, not just the oilfield workers themselves. We want to bring in more people and help them stay.”


Finke noted the new day-care would provide new employment in town, too. “It could be a minimum of 10 jobs and range up to 20 jobs if the center is running at full capacity,” she said. “So that will mean people can volunteer or work part-time or full-time jobs right in the community. It could also provide employment to high school kids who get interested in child care careers.”


Donations still welcome

The Kids Academy board has been excited about the steady contributions the project has received. “Every time we get a donation, it’s a very uplifting feeling,” said Finke. “We know there are that many more people behind it, who want a safe place for the kids. When we see that kind of support, we know we’re on the right track.”


Donations to the Kids Academy in any amount are tax-deductible and always welcomed by board members.


Persons interested in joining the Kids Academy or contributing toward the child care center are welcome to contact board secretary-treasurer Summer Ibach at 701-453-3613 or president Andy Fjeldahl at 701-453-3514 or 701-453-3481 for more information.


“The more we offer the kids,” Finke said, “the better it is for the community.”