12/06/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 12/06/2023 12:36
Dec. 6, 2023 ― DENTON ― Texas Woman's has finalized an agreement with Bezos Academy to open a tuition-free, Montessori-inspired preschool for children of the university's student-parents and Denton families.
The preschool, named Bezos Academy Denton, will be housed on university-owned land across University Drive from the Denton campus, east of North Bell Avenue. The preschool is set to break ground in April 2024.
Bezos Academy Denton will feature six classrooms with capacity for 120 students between the ages of 3 and 5 years old. Twenty percent of seats will be reserved for children within the TWU community, with the other 80% serving Denton families. The preschool will offer full-day, year-round programming.
The $6 million construction project covers the cost of a new building and outdoor spaces and includes $1.5 million from the City of Denton to increase the center's capacity to accommodate the city's growing childcare needs. In addition to providing tuition-free preschools for student-parents and Denton families, Bezos Academy and Texas Woman's will work together to offer hands-on, in-classroom learning opportunities for TWU education students.
"This partnership will be a game-changer for the many families in our communities who struggle with childcare costs," said TWU Chancellor Carine Feyten. "Texas Woman's and Bezos Academy share a mission to develop lifelong learners and leaders by increasing educational access."
Low-cost childcare is among the most cited needs for student-parents across the country, who are especially affected by the lack of affordable childcare. Nationwide, more than two-thirds of student-parents live at or near the poverty level. The Education Trust, a national advocacy organization committed to creating economic and racial parity in American education, estimates student-parents would need to work an average of 53 hours per week to cover education and childcare costs.
"One in five college students in America is also a parent. That means they have to focus on their educational and professional achievement, while ensuring their child starts life off on the right foot," said Mike George, president of Bezos Academy. "By bringing tuition-free, full-day preschools to schools like Texas Woman's University, we're hoping to help student-parents and members of their surrounding community nurture their children's love of learning without sacrificing their own. Thank you to TWU for sharing our mission."
Denton Mayor Gerard Hudspeth welcomed the project, noting it will help address the city's childcare needs.
"Across the United States, affordability is often left out of the discussion about childcare supply, which causes financial strains on families," Hudspeth said. "An ingredient to Denton's well-being is accessing quality childcare solutions that provide the educational, social and emotional foundations for our youngest residents. The city is proud to partner with Texas Woman's University to provide an essential service that will benefit Denton into future generations. I commend the efforts of everyone on this critical work and welcome the Bezos Academy to our community."
The childcare center will offer educational opportunities for Texas Woman's students who are pursuing degrees related to child development.
"The Bezos Academy is an example of how Texas Woman's works innovatively to serve our community with high-quality childcare while simultaneously providing our students with a hands-on learning experience that equips them with skills for future careers," said Lisa Huffman, dean of the university's College of Professional Education. "This initiative represents more than just a preschool program - it is a pivotal resource intertwining the development of our future educators and child development experts with the young minds of Denton. Together, we will foster an environment where learning flourishes."
Bezos Academy Denton will be located at 1820 Frame Street. Families earning up to 400% of the federal poverty level (about $120,000 per year for a family of four) with children aged 3-4 are eligible to apply. Once the school opening date is set, more information and an application for the lottery-based selection process will be posted at www.bezosacademy.org.
Bezos Academy is a non-profit organization that is building a network of fully-funded tuition-free preschools. Our preschools offer year-round, full-day programming, five days a week, for children from low-income families, ages 3-5 years old. Bezos Academy also provides students with all necessary educational supplies and services to set each student up for success, including Montessori materials, books, arts and crafts, field trips, and meals. As of November 2023, we have 19 schools operating across Washington, Texas and Florida, and agreements in place to open locations across these states and others, including Hawaii, Kentucky and Arizona. For more information, visit www.bezosacademy.org.
Texas Woman's, the nation's largest woman-focused university, with campuses in Denton, Dallas and Houston, is committed to transformational learning, leadership development, service, discovery, and health and wellbeing in an inclusive environment. The university has built a reputation on its contributions in nursing, education, the healthcare professions, the arts and sciences, and business.
Assistant Vice President, University Communications
Page last updated 12:20 PM, December 6, 2023