With help from a state grant, the new Cape Ann YMCA will be able to provide more space for in-house educational opportunities for young children. 

The new YMCA, which is slated to open in the fall of 2020 at the site of the former Fuller School, will include, among other features, an expanded early education center with more staff and programming than is currently offered in the Y's building on Middle Street. This will be funded, in part, by a $1 million capital grant the YMCA of the North Shore — the parent entity of the Cape Ann Y — received from the Baker-Polito administration. 

The grant award also brings the Cape Ann Y's overall capital campaign to a total of $20.4 million, closing in on the $22 million fundraising goal for the new complex.

"We are so grateful to the Children's Investment Fund, the Department of Early Education and Care, and the entire Baker-Polito Administration team for their overall commitment to high-quality, affordable early learning across Massachusetts," said Chris Lovasco, President and CEO of YMCA of the North Shore. "Our Cape Ann Y is honored to have been selected and truly appreciates the confidence the administration has expressed in our Y's ability to deliver on its mission here in Cape Ann."

The plan going forward is for the new Cape Ann YMCA to have a state-of-the-art licensed childcare space. 

"It is going to be 6,000 square feet," Cape Ann Y's Executive Director Tim Flaherty said. "That does not include shared spaces."

The entire new facility will have 65,000 square feet of recreational and educational space, compared to 44,000 square feet now at the Middle Street location.

The new early education space and increased staff will allow the Y to accept infants into its programs and increase space for toddlers to play and learn. This, in turn, is expected to enable the Y to double its enrollment in early education programs.

In 2019, the Cape Ann YMCA provided early education (including preschool) and after-school care for more than 200 children while offering more than $150,000 in financial assistance.

"With this increased enrollment, we are going to help all people from those who can't afford to those who can afford child care," Flaherty said. "It is going to be reflective of the community."

The Cape Ann YMCA was one of six agencies in the state to receive this money in Early Education and Out of School Time capital improvement awards to establish Early Learning Centers and to repair and renovate facilities serving children from low-income households.

The other agencies receiving grants of $1 million each include the YMCA of Cape Cod, Greater Lawrence Community Action Council, Greater Lowell Family YMCA, Horizons for Homeless Children in Boston, and YWCA of Central Massachusetts. 

As the YMCA's dream of a new Cape Ann location begins to draw closer to reality, they are looking to the next few months as instrumental ones in reaching their fundraising goal of $22 million. 

"The Y continues to push to the finish line to reach its goal by raising the final $2 million in the coming months," said Pam Sullivan, of YMCA of the North Shore. 

Anyone interested in volunteering to help the campaign may contact the Y's Chrissy Cahill at cahillc@northshoreymca.org

Staff writer Taylor Ann Bradford can be reached at 978-675-2705 or tbradford@northofboston.com.

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