Campus & Community

Gift will provide support for early childhood education

University of Denver Chancellor Robert Coombe joined the Fisher Early Learning Center on April 14 in celebration of the launch of the Marsico Institute for Early Learning and Literacy.

The program was developed through a $1.5 million gift from the Cydney and Tom Marsico Family Foundation. It will serve as a gateway for parents, professionals, legislators and others to resources in early childhood education. The Marsicos are both DU alums.

“It’s a very special day for the Fisher Center and for the Marsico Institute, and it’s also a very special day for the College of Education and the University of Denver,” Coombe said. “I can’t tell you how important this enterprise is to us at the University of Denver. It’s going to be one of those things that really does have an impact in the community.”

As more than 40 educators, friends and benefactors joined Coombe in celebration of national Week of the Child, the chancellor stressed how the Fisher Center and the Marsico Institute will work hand in hand with DU’s Morgridge College of Education in its new $23 million headquarters, located nearby. The future depends on Coloradoans working together to improve education, he said.

“From early childhood education to K-12 reform to accessibility and accountability and affordability in education … You will see us be a part of that debate,” Coombe said. “You will see us being a part of the solutions.”

Ginger Maloney, dean of the College of Education, said the Marsico Institute is crafted to enhance the University’s work in early childhood education.

“We are planning as part of the Marsico Institute to really try to build a model that we can then train other people in and reach out to our community to help others know successful strategies for including children with disabilities,” Maloney said. “We need people who can diagnose children with developmental and learning difficulties in the earliest years because that’s when intervention matters, that’s when we can change outcomes for young children by intervening early.”

Bruce Atchison, chief of staff for Colorado Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien, said the administration, from the governor down, supports improvements in education.

“We’re passionate about this issue. We’re passionate about education, we’re passionate about early childhood, and we understand that education starts with the youngest years,” he told the crowd. “We’re committed to governing with an eye to the future, and if we don’t start with our youngest children, we’re not going to have much of a future.”

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