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Recognizing the importance of the impact of Jewish early childhood centers in the St. Louis Jewish Community, the Jewish Federation of St. Louis has announced a $125,000 investment over the next 16 months into a new ECC collaborative initiative for all 10 early childhood programs in the community.

The ECC Initiative will provide a unique opportunity for the 10 programs to continue collaborating and supporting one another as they build and strengthen themselves, with a focus on long-term sustainability and success. The initiative will provide resources and professional development opportunities for the staff, including a spring 2022 conference and the establishment of a new Teacher Fellows program. The initiative will also focus on showcasing the various programs and develop strategies to recruit new teachers.

“Jewish early childhood programs connect families with the Jewish community at an important time in the family’s life, providing support, strengthening relationships with other families and deepening a family’s Jewish identity,” stated Emily Bornstein, Director of Community Investment and Evaluation. “This is why Jewish early childhood is a high priority of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, in our efforts to expand and strengthen an engaged, vibrant, and flourishing St. Louis Jewish community. We are proud to be partners with the Jewish Early Childhood Director’s Council. Our Community Impact team has worked closely with the council over the last five years and provided a number of investments to support their work. We are excited to invest in this new collaborative initiative to strengthen the capacity of each unique program and their collaborative work.”

Tamar Shulman has been hired by the ECC Directors’ Council as the Coordinator of the initiative. Lauren Lourie, Director of Early Childhood Education and Engagement at United Hebrew Congregation, is the new chair of the Council, following Anita Kraus, Director of Early Childhood at Congregation B’nai Amoona.

“It’s an exciting endeavor. The ECC Directors of the Council have worked together so well to identify our mutual needs. At the same time, the Jewish Federation has been very willing to support these needs, which will benefit our communities, teachers, and young St. Louis families overall. Working alongside Tamar Shulman will only enhance our work and ensure that this endeavor has a positive trajectory and impact, promoting a sustainable plan for moving our preschools, educators, and communities into a most positive future,” shared Kraus.

Shulman holds a master’s degree from Bank Street College of Education in Early Childhood General and Special Education / Infant and Family Development and Early Intervention. Tamar brings with her a wide range of experience in the field, from classroom teaching, to teacher mentorship and coaching, and leadership and administrative roles. Tamar is passionate about supporting children and their families, and working with teachers and administrators. She is very excited to be joining the directors on this initiative, and looks forward to advancing their strategies and getting to know the teachers and families.

Lourie added, “Jewish Federation of St. Louis has continued to reach out to the St. Louis Jewish Community Early Childhood Directors’ Council to see how they can best support us. It has been invigorating to work together to share ideas and strategies, find the commonalities of what we need, and explore areas of growth. We are excited to have Tamar join us with her unique background to further help us support our families and staff.”

Marci Mayer Eisen is Federation’s liaison supporting the work of the ECC Directors Council. For information, contact Tamar Shulman (stlcouncilcoordinator@gmail.com) or Marci Mayer Eisen (MEisen@JFedSTL.org).