Bezos Academy Offering 10 Years Of Free Preschool In Exchange For Space At Everett Station

January 20, 2022

Everett Government

There are currently five Bezos Academy locations operating in Washington State with more set to open this year.

Up to 60 kids would be enrolled.

There is a definite need for preschools in Everett.

The location would be the northern first floor of Everett Station in its own space, separate from the Transportation operations.

For $60k a year Everett gets a first-class preschool for 60 kids who need it most.

Wednesday night the Everett City Council heard from members of the management team at the Bezos Academy on their wish to operate a free full-time pre-school for up to 60 kids aged three to five years old.

The kids attending would come from families experiencing homelessness, the foster care system or from the most economically disadvantaged households in Everett, Washington.

The Bezos Academy was founded with a $2 billion dollar grant a couple of years ago as part of a personal philanthropy project by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

The Bezos Academy says their program looks for areas where there are childcare access deserts and works to increase and supplement pre-school capacity.

Everett, Washington is one of those so-called childcare access deserts with less than fifty percent of preschool needs being met. Fifty three percent of kids entering kindergarten in Everett lack foundational skills and 12.8% of Everett’s population lives below the poverty line.

After receiving a call from the Bezos Academy last year officials in Everett have been talking with staff and looking for a place that would meet the needs for a Bezos Academy. Here’s a brief explanation of how the process works as described on the Bezos Academy website:

1. We identify eligible communities based on the answers to three questions: Does the community have a high concentration of low-income families? How many 3-to-5-year-old children live in the community? What is the gap between the number of preschool age children, and the full-day, year-round licensed preschool seats? We are looking for communities that have a large, growing access gap.

2. We then speak with trusted organizations in those communities who recognize the need for early learning services. If we find a host who shares our vision and passion, we request their help to better understand the local community, including meeting with other organizations and public agencies on the front lines of serving area children and families.

3. Once it appears that a Bezos Academy would be a good fit for a community’s preschool needs, we discuss space options. We have high standards that all our schools must follow, including meeting or exceeding all state and local early childhood education licensing requirements. As long as a building meets the bar, Bezos Academy makes the necessary investments to transform the space into a warm, welcoming preschool environment, and we furnish it with everything required to open a new Montessori-inspired preschool.

We also cover all the operating expenses for our preschool programs at no cost to either the families we serve or our community host. We hire, train, develop, and pay talented educators, and we provide everything that the children need during their day with us, including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.

Each host provides the space to us for no additional rent for a period of at least 10 years. Ten years might seem like a long time, but we’re committed to this work for the long-haul, and we want the families and communities we serve to have as much predictability as possible.

City of Everett officials identified Everett Station as a location that would be available and meet the needs of the Bezos Academy while putting to use a space that has been empty for the last couple of years.

The City is offering the north side of the building that formerly housed Veteran’s Services. The Academy would have its own entrance, be completely separate from Everett Station including restrooms for the staff and students and an enclosed outdoor play area.

The cost to the City of Everett would be $60,000 a year which would come out of the General Fund and be paid to Everett Transit as rent. (Everett Transit owns the station and it operates on a budget separate from the City)

For that investment, Bezos Academy covers all of the costs including remodeling, operations, staffing, food, etc. for up to 60 kids at no charge to their families.

The lease proposal is expected to come before the Everett City Council next week and if approved the Bezos Academy could open in the fall of this year. You can learn more about the Bezos Academy here.


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