Spokane Journal of Business

Early learning program receives upgrades in Hillyard

Three classrooms to grow capacity to 60 kids from 20

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The Northeast Youth Center is in the midst of a $1.1 million remodel project to create three dedicated learning spaces for children in Washington state’s Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program.

Executive Director Sheila Geraghty says construction began in mid-March and is expected to be completed June 15, followed by an open house on July 13.

Walker Construction Inc., of Spokane, is the contractor for the remodel. NAC Architecture, also of Spokane, designed the project, and the Spokane office of DCI Engineers is providing engineering services.

Northeast Youth Center is a Spokane-based nonprofit in Hillyard that occupies a 15,200-square-foot, two-story building located at 3004 E. Queen, where the organization has been operating for 14 years.

Geraghty says the first floor of the building was previously a large open space with modular classroom walls that also had remnants of the building’s previous occupant—a Veterans of Foreign Wars post.

The remodel work includes the construction of classroom walls, doors, and windows in addition to replacing an old boiler and installing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment.

“One of the ECEAP requirements is that the classrooms have to have their own bathroom, their own handwashing sink, and their own eating space,” Geraghty says. “This is kind of a game changer for us, because right now, both of the classrooms upstairs, the ECEAP classroom, and the preschool classroom share a bathroom down the hall.”

She adds that the remodel also will add the center’s first utility room that will have some storage space and a washer and dryer.

“We always have had to send out our laundry to a laundry service, and now we’ll have our own, that also has a refrigerator in it, so we can keep the children’s snacks and milk right there on the (first) floor instead of upstairs in the kitchen,” Geraghty says.

The improvements are funded in part by a $720,000 Early Learning Facilities grant from the Washington state Department of Commerce. Geraghty says the center’s board of directors committed to funding the remaining $380,000. A separate Commerce grant will fund the boiler replacement, she adds.

She says Northeast Youth Center currently has space for 20 students ages 3 to 5 years old, although only 14 children are enrolled. After the completion of the project, the center’s ECEAP capacity will increase to 60 students.

“We’re just now doing a huge marketing push to try to get more kids signed up for it because it is free preschool,” says Geraghty. “We’ve got a couple of new students, but we still haven’t made it to that 20 yet.”

Geraghty says the tenant improvements will benefit not only the ECEAP students, but also the teachers.

“That’s exciting for me, because I know it’s going to change the behaviors of the children in a positive way, and the teachers will be able to be more productive and more successful in a new classroom like this.”

Erica Bullock
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Reporter Erica Bullock has worked at the Journal since 2019 and covers real estate and construction. She is a craft beer enthusiast, who loves to garden and go camping with friends.

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