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North Tama Telegraph Tells Dysart Grant Story


Power of Connection grant to benefit Dysart community


Despite plenty of snow and freezing temperatures, construction of the new Little Knights Learning Center has been progressing steadily. Pictured is the site earlier in the month as walls were just going up. The center remains on schedule to open for the 2021 fall semester. Photo by Huff Contracting, Inc.

A local effort to meet child care needs has received $5,000 through a Power of Connection grant administered jointly by ITC Midwest and the Iowa Rural Development Council (IRDC).

With a population of 1,400, Dysart is a community with a vibrant business district, excellent schools, many recreational opportunities and a good quality of life.

For three years, the Little Knights Learning Center (LKLC) has served the needs of young families in the community, encouraging growth and strengthening community vitality.

LKLC is currently located in the Dysart-Geneseo Elementary School, which is part of the Union Community School District.

However, a growth in elementary school enrollment is necessitating LKLC move to a new location, which is a good problem for the Dysart community to have.

In response, the LKLC Board of Directors – with strong support from the community – have embarked on a building project for a 6,400 square foot daycare facility on land leased by the Union Community School District.

LKLC accepts kids from six weeks to 12 years old and offers a before and after school program. The new facility will be licensed for an enrollment of 85 to meet today’s needs and allow for future growth. The state-of-the-art facility will include four classrooms, a before and after school daycare room, full kitchen, laundry room, director’s office and staff break room. A playground that meets Department of Human Services standards is also part of this project. The new facility is expected to cost $1.23 million.

The grant program, launched last year by ITC Midwest and IRDC, is intended to help fund feasibility studies, strategic planning and non-construction/equipment elements of a rural project. For the Dysart child care project, the funds will be used towards the architectural and design development phase of the building project.

“Little Knights Learning Center was excited to hear about the Power of Connection grant and how it could help us with our architectural costs,” Wanda Petersen, LKLC Board President said. “This new daycare is going to be a great addition to Dysart by serving a need in our community and surrounding towns. We want to thank ITC Midwest and Iowa Rural Development Council for the opportunity to apply and for awarding us the grant.”

“The lack of affordable, quality child care is constraining economic development throughout rural areas of the state and the region,” ITC Midwest President Dusky Terry said. “By working together, communities can overcome this challenge. Through the Power of Connection program in collaboration with the Iowa Rural Development Council, ITC Midwest is pleased to support the child care initiative being constructed in Dysart to improve the overall quality of life and spur future growth in the community.”

Communities eligible for the Power of Connection program must have populations of under 10,000 and be outside of a metropolitan area. Power of Connection grant dollars cannot be used for construction, real estate or equipment.

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