The Omaha Early Learning Center (OELC) at Kennedy is OELC’s third nonprofit licensed childcare center providing high quality early childhood services to low-income children from age 6 weeks to 3 years.  The project is scheduled to be completed for the 2020-2021 school year.  It will serve the low-income working families in this distressed neighborhood, addressing a lack of childcare in the area which has resulted in long waiting lists for enrollment, especially for children three years old and younger.

The Omaha Early Learning Center at Kennedy is part of a larger redevelopment plan for this struggling North Omaha neighborhood, the Highlander/Pleasantview neighborhood.  Once the center of African American culture, the neighborhood has fallen on hard times.  There have been numerous revitalization plans over the years, but none have come to fruition.  Though the plans have not been successful, these prior initiatives resulted in numerous surveys, studies, community meetings and other outreach and community engagement – all of which have resulted in a comprehensive understanding of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and needs for the neighborhood.  Through these efforts, a coalition of stakeholders, philanthropists and community leaders launched 75 North, built on the Purpose Built Community model, to revitalize the Highlander/Pleasantview neighborhood.  The 75 North collaborative is focused and invested in three critical areas: housing; education; and health and wellness.

The OELC at Kennedy will serve 164 low-income children and their families and will create approximately 50 full-time jobs in the community, all of which will be available to residents of the Highlander/Pleasantview neighborhood.  All of the full-time positions pay a living wage and provide health insurance and other benefits.  The project also created approximately 169 construction jobs.

High quality early childhood experiences can make a permanent difference in the life of a child who might otherwise find his or her potential limited by life circumstances.  Educational benefits from early childhood services and education include improved kindergarten readiness, reduced special education placements, and higher high school graduation rates. Benefits to society include reductions in crime, improved workplace productivity and increased adult earnings.  Early education is one of the most powerful interventions we can undertake to ensure that children, families, and communities thrive.

Smith NMTC assisted OELC to source and structure this complex transaction with 2 CDEs using both Federal and State NMTCs to provide sufficient subsidy to address OELC’s funding gap.

Read more about this project here. 


Project Type: 

Early Childhood Center


Project Close: September 2018
QEI: $7,000,000


Investor: US Bank CDC

Other Financing: Twinned with $10M state tax credits (Nebraska)


Distress Criteria:

  • Poverty: 36.0%
  • Area Median Income: 34.9%
  • 1.36 x national unemployment rate