The Early Learning Center to be built in Intelliplex, with a groundbreaking tentatively scheduled for May 2023, will carry the Runnebohm family name: The Julia and Nicholas Runnebohm Early Learning Center.
The Center has been made possible through a community collaboration led by a personal contribution from the Runnebohms and Runnebohm Construction.
Nick and Judy (Julia) Runnebohm have four children, Mike (Marcy Patrick), Kathy Johnson, Cindy Whitten (Brent), and Susie Brown (Sam Young), and the family understands the importance of a healthy start for children. Judy, who passed away in 2016, was especially dedicated to Shelby County’s youth. She served as a powerful advocate for many residents of the former Shelby County Youth Center, a residential facility for youth who were unable to live at home.
She was known for her tough love approach, and she was a dedicated mother figure to many teens and pre-teens. She is legendary for making certain the youth in her care received the health and dental services they needed, that they received appropriate attention from their schools and teachers, and she generously dispensed love, advice, discipline, and compassion to the young people she served.
The Runnebohm family knows that giving the Center the Runnebohm name would have been especially meaningful to Judy. She genuinely wanted to see all children grow up to have a happy, successful life, and that requires a wholesome and healthy start. However, a recent internal study at MHP Pediatrics reveals that many children in the community ages zero to three are not getting that good start. Approximately 67 percent of children in that age group are at risk for developmental and social delays. The national average is 25 percent. Being at risk increases a child’s potential for a less successful school career, thereby decreasing their quality of life.
“The Julia and Nicholas Runnebohm Early Learning Center will be transformational for the children of our community,” said Allison Coburn, PhD, Executive Director of Early Learning Shelby County. She added, “The Golden Bear Preschool does a great job with children ages three and up, and it’s even more beneficial if potential delays can be spotted earlier. This will happen at the Center. I think Judy Runnebohm would have loved that.”
The Center will be staffed by degreed teachers and aides and will begin by serving 100 children ages three to zero with a goal of 200. Over time, additional centers will be built in the rural areas of the community to add convenience and additional access for families who don’t live in the city. The Center will feature a nationally standardized curriculum and evidence-based programming. Vouchers, employer-based sponsorships, and scholarships will be available to qualifying families.
Early Learning Shelby County is a recipient of the READI Grant as well as city, county, state and private philanthropic support. Donors include the Runnebohm family, Horseshoe Indianapolis, Knauf Insulation, Ryobi Die Casting USA, Major Health Partners, Early Learning Indiana, and the Wortman Family Foundation at the Blue River Community Foundation.