Tampa's longest-running preschool has helped low-income families for nearly 100 years
It's a fixture of the community, yet most residents have never heard of it.
Founded nearly 100 years ago, A Brighter Community is Tampa's longest-running preschool. Dedicated to serving low-income families and single parents, the school does much more than provide formal education. It pairs parents with job opportunities, groceries, and clothing during long winters.
"We have homeless children-- children who have been in foster care. We have children who may live in cars with their parents because they can't afford housing right now," says Executive Director Juanita McClinton-Lee. "We're here to help guide them along."
McClinton-Lee's personal story makes her the woman for the job.
More than a decade ago, Juanita sent her child to A Brighter Community after she learned she was "expecting" while playing on the basketball team at the University of Tampa. She saw firsthand how the teachers at A Brighter Community were dedicated to not only helping her child, but to supporting her as well.
A few years later, McClinton-Lee earned her Masters of Education and is now leading the school toward its major 100-year mark.
"My story is definitely full-circle, and I hope that it's the same for many of the kids here. We want to help them grow in every way possible so that they can go out, connect with opportunities, and then come back and serve the very community that gave so much to them."
With several Tampa residents facing housing, employment, and food insecurity, A Brighter Community serves children ages 3-5 who are at-risk for school failure due to poverty.
The program provides support to approximately 125 families annually whose average income is well below the national guidelines for poverty. A Brighter Community not only provides a high-quality learning environment, but healthy meals and access to medical and dental professionals. To qualify, parents must be working, attending school or in a job training program.
To learn about ways you can partner with A Brighter Community, contact them at 813-223-6830 or send a message to executive director directly at JMcClinton-Lee@abrightercommunity.org.