Earlier this month local administrators said the facility was at risk of closing, but thanks to recent fundraisers it raised at least one month’s operating cost. Administrators said they don’t yet know whether they will receive a $100,000 grant from the Alabama Department of Education, so this year it is using fundraisers to keep the facility open.
“I have no indication that we’re not going to get it this year. Sometime in the next couple of months we’ll know for sure,” said Marc Williams, executive director of the preschool’s parent organization, The Learning Tree. “That’s a grant we have to have to operate the preschool, but I can’t count on it year after next.”
The Little Tree is also preparing for a move which will help cut costs, according to Aimee Spruill, assistant director and teacher, and Lisa Ann Spurling, the coordinator of resource development. The planned move will be to the McClellan Center for Child Development. The location, which The Little Tree has used before, will include one classroom, play spaces, and offices.
While local administrators wait to learn whether they’ll receive the grant, they’ve been organizing fundraisers to help make ends meet. Earlier this month The Little Tree held a 5K at McClellan to raise money. Almost 200 people participated in the event and the nonprofit earned about $5,200. That’s just enough to cover one month’s operating expense, The Little Tree administrators said.
To keep the school going in the future, administrators are hoping for the grant and planning other fundraisers, they said. One such fundraiser, “Across America: 10,000 miles for Kids with Autism,” is expected to roll through Jacksonville later this week. Across America is a cycling trip in which, co-founder of The Learning Tree, Jerre Brimer, is riding his bike across the country to raise awareness about autism.
Brimer left Colorado in early April to raise awareness for the ride and by Thursday morning he’ll be cycling through Jacksonville, Little Tree administrators said.
“We’re really surprised at how fast he’s going,” Spruill said.
The administrators are planning more fundraisers for the fall and winter. The fall event, the Monster Bash, will be a costume 5K run and the winter event, a black-tie gala, is an annual event known as Aces for Autism.
Staff writer Laura Johnson: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LJohnson_Star.