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WIU-QC Early Learning Center Receives City of Moline Grant

January 30, 2024

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Moline, IL -- The Western Illinois University-Quad Cities Bilingual Early Learning Lab (Rocky's Play Space) recently received $50,000 from the City of Moline's Childcare/Workforce Infrastructure initiative to implement an inclusive playground. Mayor Rayapati and her team have been working to help narrow the gap of available childcare in Moline.

The grant will fund the development of a nature-based outdoor play and learning area that is adaptable for blended age groups. Equipment includes an outdoor art station, mud kitchen and tricycle track. The play and learning area will be utilized for center-related family events and have time available for community members outside of the center's operating hours.

"Outdoor play and learning is an essential part of child development, enhancing self-regulation, creative problem solving, language skills and so much more," said Director of the Center for Best Practices in Early Childhood Education Lindsay Meeker. "Free play outdoors and connecting with nature lights up parts of our brains that cannot be accomplished any other way. The grant from The City of Moline makes it possible for our Bilingual Early Learning Lab Site and childcare to give children those experiences. It is planned as a nature scape play area and outdoor classroom, including a child led garden area."

Rocky's Play Space is planned to open Spring 2024 at 406 7th Street, Moline. The opening date may be extended depending on the time necessary for design and construction.

The site will enroll a minimum of 65 children across operating shifts with priority enrollment of 70% to linguistically diverse families and those experiencing vulnerabilities. Enrolled and non-enrolled families will have opportunities to access wrap-around and family education services.

WIU is also partnering with United Way to offer born learning academies for local families of young children, along with the Moline and East Moline Parent Mentor Program. To help maximize engagement through WIU's College of Education and Human Services, students will be given opportunities to gain hands-on experiences through family education opportunities, working directly with children and early childhood advocacy that will prepare them for industry-based careers after graduation.

The ARPA Childcare/Workforce Infrastructure Forgivable Loan Program seeks to assist families and Moline businesses that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program supports childcare and early education workforce development along with strengthening existing centers.

For more information on the College of Education and Human Services (COEHS), visit

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