Sheltering Arms, an Atlanta-based nonprofit agency that provides early childhood education, has opened a 27,000-square-foot center at the Barack and Michelle Obama Academy (formerly D.H. Stanton Elementary School) in Peoplestown after raising $8.4 million.

The environmentally friendly building will serve around 200 children and their families, and marks Sheltering Arms’ 16th location in metro Atlanta. The center addresses a family’s needs from an educational, health, social capital and economic perspective.

“We’re excited about the new center at D.H. Stanton because it expands our capacity to give more children, regardless of background, the opportunity for a top-notch early education, childhood and future,” says Blythe Keeler Robinson, president and CEO of Sheltering Arms.

Robinson adds, “Eighty-five percent of a child’s brain structure is developed by age three, and what they experience up to that point already has a profound effect on their educational, social and physical potential. Our goal is to transform early childhood education in a way that not only builds stronger children, but stronger families and communities as well.”

Organizations such as Invest Atlanta, the City of Atlanta’s Economic Development Authority and Bank of America have provided support for the center. Additional contributions include a lead gift from the Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation, along with support from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, the James M. Cox Foundation, the Marcus Foundation and the Tull Charitable Foundation.

“Bank of America Merrill Lynch is proud to provide $3 million in New Markets Tax Credit equity to Sheltering Arms to help fund the construction of the new D.H. Stanton learning center,” says Mary Thompson, senior vice president of Community Development Banking at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “Sheltering Arms’ mission of serving working families by providing high-quality, affordable child care and education and comprehensive support services fits with the bank’s goal to create stronger communities through lending, investing and giving.”

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