Before We Get to Mars/Union Church Early Childhood Initiative

The Journey
Six years ago, Mike challenged us to take on a meaningful, long-term, whole church,
signature mission initiative, one that would impact the lives of others and ourselves.
We launched the Before We Get to Mars /Union Church Early Childhood initiative.
Through this initiative, we have been on a journey. Like many journeys, it has taken
longer than expected, involved some detours, and surprises have popped up along the
Partnering to Invest in the Future
Summit had been identified as a prime location for building relationships and
investing in the future. For about 1,000 children aged five and under, a paucity of
about 55 spots in licensed daycare centers and licensed home daycares have been
available to serve the community. School District 104 has 170 spots in their half-day
Pre-Kindergarten program, but has been unable to fill the spots, as working parents
have not had an option for the other half of the day. The school district is very eager
for us to partner with them. Currently, roughly two thirds of the students do not
demonstrate readiness in 3 out of 3 developmental areas at the beginning of
Relationships have also been developed with Summit community business and
government leaders. Several Pop-Up Preschools in Summit parks have introduced
families to our quality educational methods and our goal. Around 30 families have
signed up to be on a wait-list for our school.
The Find
As 2023 began, the UCECI leadership team doubled down on efforts to find a
location for an early childhood center in the community of Summit. Additional
properties were considered and past sites were reconsidered. After the first months of
the year showed little promise, we began to consider looking beyond the boundaries
of Summit. One last call by Mary Sue Honigschmidt to our realtor revealed that a
preschool on Archer Road was on the market. The site was well established and very
appealing. There was a safe drop-off area and a fenced playground.
While much of our previous efforts had revolved around leasing property; that was
not an option for this property. Purchasing was the only option. The building and the
business were being sold as a package. A financial team of church members was called

upon to review preliminary business plans as well as to advise and examine the
wisdom of this financial investment.
A Surprise
We were surprised to learn that the preschool is a Polish language school. While
Summit once had a large Polish population, the school now serves families that live
outside the community, sometimes 30-45 minutes away. The school preserves the
Polish language, culture, and traditions. The teachers speak Polish and English. While
our intent has been to serve the families in the community of Summit, our business
plan includes continuing to serve the current students and families and transitioning
to serving families from within the community over time. This will occur as students
age out of the program.
As the year unfolded, initial purchase agreements were entered with the owners to
work toward an agreeable contract. Currently, negotiations to purchase the building
and the business are in process. Satisfaction of several due diligence details is
To prepare for ownership of the preschool, we applied for and received an exemption
to a Summit village ordinance that requires new businesses along the corridor of
Archer Road to generate sales and property taxes. As a nonprofit organization, we do
not pay taxes. We also applied for and were granted a business license from the
Village. When the license was granted at the Summit Village Trustees meeting, Village
President Sergio Rodriguez, who has been very supportive of our efforts, gave a shout
out to welcome Union Church to Summit!
In anticipation of the purchase, an entity separate from Union Church and UCECP
has been incorporated: Unidad Preschool, Inc. Unidad means “unity”-like Union- in
Sharing the News
The UCECI team is very happy to share the progress that has been made towards our
goal in the past year. An update was shared with the congregation in early December
to announce that a desirable facility has been found and that we are in negotiations.
Further updates will be shared. When due diligence is complete and the contract is
agreeable to our team, a formal proposal will be made to the congregation for a vote
on the purchase.

Funding Support
Prior to the announcement of a potential $400,000 building purchase and ~$450,000
business purchase, very generous members donated $15,000 and $25,000.
Additionally, Irv Clarke has generously pledged to match $387,500 of contributions
received from the congregation. It is touching that someone of Irv’s generation has
made this commitment which will impact future generations.
In full support, Executive Council voted unanimously to approve $59,500 in
discretionary, non-operating funds for the preschool and business purchase. While
awaiting Executive Council approval as of this writing, the Ministry for Change has
unanimously recommended use of $50,000 from the Make a Holy Difference Local
Mission Fund.
With the wonderfully generous individual gifts and approval of church funds, we are
around $313,000 away from our goal of the ~$850,000 purchase price. The amount is
not exact as there is the possibility the price of the business may be reduced as
negotiations continue. With further donations from members of the congregation, we
will be able to meet the purchase price goal.
The State voucher system will assist families’ ability to pay tuition. Once we have an
address, we will be eligible to apply for grants to supplement continuing operation of
the full-day preschool, including the possibility of block grant funding with Summit
School District 104’s Pre-Kindergarten Program.
For this whole church mission initiative, all members are encouraged to participate
financially as well as look forward to future engagement in opportunities at the
preschool and Summit community. Pledges to the Summit Preschool Initiative may be
spread out over 3 years to make generous giving more comfortable.
Exciting Opportunity
This is a very exciting time for Union Church! We are on the precipice of
transforming the lives of future generations.
Penny Davey, UCECI Chair

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