Anchor Center for Blind Children has a mission to teach infants and young children with visual impairments and their families, providing hope and a nurturing environment where children reach their highest potential.
They were founded in 1982 by a librarian from the Colorado Library for the Blind and the local Delta Gamma Fraternity alumnae chapter. The first class included four Preschool students and six home-bound infants. Today, they serve over 100 children (aged 0-5 years) each year through specialized early intervention and educational programming, while providing support and education to families, siblings and caregivers.
Anchor Center’s vision is to set the standard as a nationally recognized leader in developmental, educational and support services for children who have visual impairments, as well as the families and professionals who love and serve them. They put children and families first. Their Infant, Toddler, Preschool, Family Support, Eye Clinic, and Community Outreach programs allow a multidisciplinary team of practitioners to fully support each child’s needs – both through center-based and home visitation services. They teach the life skills that prepare children for success in their school years and beyond.
Anchor Center’s Core Values
Always work in the best interest of each child
Value the unique contributions of every individual in the organization
Employ collaborative, mission-driven decision making
Operate in the spirit of gratitude to the donors who make their programs possible
Expect leadership in all aspects of their organization
Act in the best interest of the whole
Appreciate the network of resources (community, volunteers, staff, etc.) that enable them to build capacity and fulfill their mission and vision
Why RMA Chooses to Support Anchor Center
Anchor Center is the only center in the state that specializes in educational and therapeutic services for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers with visual impairments, all provided by an expert team of teachers, therapists, family and developmental specialists, and pediatric ophthalmologists. People travel from all over Colorado and neighboring states for their services. It is estimated that up to 90% of our early learning occurs through vision. Therefore, it is critical to have a place for young children with blindness and their families to go to receive the best experience (education, therapy, training, what to expect moving forward, etc.) in hopes of setting them up for success so that they can easily integrate into the community as they grow up. We are so fortunate to have this organization in our backyard, as it is the only one like it in the state of Colorado and one of only a handful of others throughout the country.Often, families come to the center when their kids are babies and stay through preschool. Families form strong bonds and a tight community here. Over 97% of Anchor's funding is through donations and grants. They charge minimal tuition for toddlers and preschoolers, and never for babies.
What we Learned on our Site Visit with Anchor Center
Transportation to the center is a big challenge. How do you continue to make these services accessible to people who do not live in the Denver-area? Looking ahead, they are working towards adding virtual/tele-health options to their home visitation services so that families can take advantage of Anchor's services while at home without having to make travel arrangements.
There is a nominal tuition fee for the toddlers and preschoolers who receive Anchor Center programming (approximately $2,500 a year); however, only 20% of families are able to pay full tuition. Most of the services and programs are fully funded through philanthropy and charitable support from the community. This organization will never turn a child away due to a family’s inability to pay, it is part of their mission.
The staff were very passionate about the work that they do and the impact that they are making. The organization clearly wants to grow and it is incredible to see how far they have come in the past 30+ years.
Plans for the RMA Grant They Received
Anchor Center has stolen our hearts in the last couple of years and we are thrilled to support them again this year. In 2018, Anchor Center was granted funds in which they used to support their two-year Preschool Program for children with visual impairments (aged 3-5 years) and their families. Specifically, funding was used to purchase preschool classroom supplies, and to support personnel expenses for their highly qualified transdisciplinary team of teachers and therapists.
The 2019 grant funding will go towards the further enrichment of their Preschool Programming, including a focus on kindergarten readiness and family support. Their Preschool Program is by far their most expensive to deliver given the specialized nature of their early childhood educational interventions and curricula for children at this developmental stage. The more Anchor Center staff who receive continued education and training on how to work with this population, the more lives they can positively impact.
Learn more about Anchor Center - https://anchorcenter.org/
Anchor Center is just one of the many organizations that RMA chooses to support. We hope to grant even more money to these types of organizations in 2020. Show your support for RMA and donate today!