Daily News

Square One Announces Plans for Expanded Access to Early Education

SPRINGFIELD — It’s back to Square One for one of the region’s oldest nonprofit organizations. This morning, Square One leaders were joined by state and local officials to formally announce plans to expand access to high-quality early learning and care for the region’s children and families.

The announcement was held at 947 Main St., Springfield, the site where Square One once stood prior to the 2011 tornado. There, Square One plans to build a new facility, which will include four preschool classrooms, a full-service family-support center, and administrative offices.

Early support for the estimated $10 million project is coming from both the city of Springfield and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno has committed nearly $1 million in funding, while state Sen. Adam Gomez and state Rep. Carlos Gonzalez sponsored and secured a $2 million earmark in the state budget to support Square One’s expansion of services.

“I am so appreciative of Square One’s continued and dedicated efforts to provide an outstanding, caring, safe, nurturing, and educational environment for our children and their families,” Sarno said. “I am proud to continue to financially support this initiative to the tune of nearly $1 million. Pre-K education and workforce-development initiatives have been a hallmark issue for my administration.”

Added Gomez, “the services that Square One provides across the city of Springfield are paramount for the development and care of the city’s youth. Advocating for the $2 million granted at the state level is the least that I could do to show my appreciation for the work that Square One does. As a former Square One kid myself, you never know what the future holds for our youth, but they are all destined for greatness. The special funding announced today will be going toward a new building, which will broaden the range of Square One’s support for children and families in the community. It’s so important to ensure our investments are going where it counts — the next generation.”

The 26,000-square-foot facility is being developed by well-known developers Fran Cataldo, Juan Prieto, Paul Picknelly, and Charles Irving, who formed a partnership in 2016 for the purpose of developing the property that was once occupied by Square One. Known as Davenport Square 1, the partners represent a legacy of investment, development, and redevelopment in Springfield and Western Mass., including retail, housing, office, and hospitality projects. Together, they are committed to projects that support the revitalization of downtown Springfield.

“We are so grateful for the support and advocacy we have received at the state and local level,” said Dawn DiStefano, Square One president and CEO. “We know that when children and families have access to high-quality early learning and care, the positive impact is felt by everyone around them. Not only are our children getting the educational foundation they need to become our future leaders, but their parents can go to work feeling confident their children are learning in a safe, nurturing, and playful environment. Likewise, our businesses can thrive because accessible full-day child care is no longer a barrier for their employees. This project is a win for our community.”