A local organization that has provided affordable and reliable childcare in the Belfast region for nearly 50 years will soon be able to scale operations, helping even more individuals and families through a multi-year grant from Bank of America. Belfast Area Child Care Services has been named as the 2021 Bank of America Neighborhood Champion for its work in the Waldo County community addressing these issues.

As part of the program, BACCS will receive $50,000 in grant support and an opportunity for engagement in virtual leadership training delivered by experts in the nonprofit sector on topics like human capital management, increasing financial sustainability and storytelling.

Founded in 1973, BACCS provides year-round childcare for infants and children ages 6 weeks to 12 years at two centers: Belfast Area Children’s Center in Waldo and Starrett Children’s Center in Belfast. The mission of BACCS is to provide quality, affordable early childhood education that fosters individual success and a lifelong love of learning. The centers bring early childhood education and after-school care to several rural, underserved communities located in Waldo County, and accept all children regardless of a family’s ability to pay.

According to the Maine Children’s Alliance, there are six counties in the state with a child poverty rate above 20 percent, including Waldo County, where the rate is more than five percentage points higher than Maine’s statewide rate. By providing affordable and reliable care, BACCS’s centers have supported the stability of the region by allowing more parents to seek and maintain employment, as well as access additional pathways to economic opportunity.

“As communities continue to recover and navigate a changing landscape, nonprofits are still experiencing significant demands and are in need of resources to help deliver critical services, such as affordable childcare,” said Bill Williamson, president, Bank of America Maine. “Belfast Area Child Care Services helps bridge important gaps for individuals and families to help them chart a path toward economic opportunity and stability. Programs like Neighborhood Champions help these organizations grow sustainably and strategically for greater positive impact in the community.”

“We are so excited and grateful to have our organization chosen to receive the Bank of America Neighborhood Champion award for the State of Maine.” said Regina Madden, executive director of Belfast Area Child Care Services. “The funds will assist our organization in continuing to provide high quality, affordable, early care and education to the children and families in Waldo County. This funding will also help to retain twenty full and part-time jobs for the employees of our two childcare centers. I am personally very excited about the leadership development opportunities, that will serve to help our leadership team grow and learn from other people outside of our organization, Our thanks to Bank of America for believing in our mission, our vision, and supporting that belief with multi-year operational funding and leadership development opportunities.”

Alongside Maine, the bank will bring the program to over 42 additional communities across the U.S. this fall as part of its commitment to investing in the long-term health of communities. The Neighborhood Champions program is invitation-only for nonprofits who are poised to take their work to the next level. Leading members of the community participated in a collaborative selection process to identify this year’s awardee.

The Neighborhood Champions program is an extension of the bank’s signature philanthropic initiative, Neighborhood Builders®, the largest corporate philanthropic investment in nonprofit leadership in the country. Since the program’s inception in 2019, Bank of America has invested $6.3 million in 126 organizations within 42 communities through the Neighborhood Champions program.