New partnership between Youth In Need and University City Children’s Center will leverage best of both nonprofits to serve families and advance early childhood education

Youth In Need and University City Children’s Center (UCCC) announced today that both organizations have agreed to move forward with plans to combine early childhood education services. Both organizations’ boards of directors unanimously agreed to the plan last week to have UCCC and the Lume Institute become a part of Youth In Need’s Early Learning Programs across St. Louis and Eastern Missouri.

With this formal affiliation, UCCC will continue serving children from across St. Louis with its unique and inclusive curriculum, as it has for 54 years. UCCC’s sister organization, the LUME Institute, will maintain its innovative teacher training programs. Youth In Need will offer increased supports for UCCC families
and staff as well as provide additional resources for LUME’s professional development services to grow and expand.

Youth In Need and UCCC have been partners for almost 15 years. In 2010, UCCC became one of Youth In Need’s Early Head Start partners, enabling UCCC to offer 16 infants and toddlers the center’s top-notch education at no cost to low-income families. As a regional Head Start and Early Head Start federal
grantee, Youth In Need has been working closely with UCCC ever since. In addition, Youth In Need is a repeat customer for LUME’s expertise, having sought out the Institute’s teacher training for its own staff multiple times over the years.

Steve Zwolak, former Executive Director of UCCC and founder of the LUME Institute, said, “Youth In Need has been a trusted partner of University City Children’s Center since 2010. I worked closely with their leadership and have always been impressed with their team. They share UCCC’s philosophical
values of serving children and families with great empathy and supporting teachers with training in emotionally responsive practices. This partnership will help everyone hold the souls of children and serve families across our region.”

Pat Holterman-Hommes, President and CEO of Youth In Need, said, “Steve Zwolak and his team have built a remarkable culture at UCCC and with LUME. Our goal is to continue their legacy of serving families and children in the best way possible: with remarkable staff and a commitment to nurture the
growth and development of children through inclusive, innovative, high-quality care and education. We’ve enjoyed a special partnership for almost 15 years and look forward to continuing to serve our region together. Youth In Need is celebrating our 50th anniversary this year, and UCCC is older than we
are. That means collectively we’ve been serving the St. Louis region for more than 100 years.”

Earlier this week, Youth In Need and UCCC shared the news with families, teachers and staff. UCCC and LUME will keep their current names, and there will be no significant changes to day-to-day operations.

About Youth In Need: Youth In Need is one of few organizations in the nation with a continuum of care for ages birth to young adulthood. Crisis intervention programs include street-based outreach services for runaway youth and youth experiencing homelessness, an emergency shelter and rapid rehousing for
transition-age youth. Longer-term therapeutic recovery programs include transitional living programming for youth experiencing homelessness and youth ageing out of the foster care system, school- and community-based counseling services and foster care case management. Early intervention programs include Head Start and Early Head Start early childhood education and positive youth and family development services.

About University City Children’s Center: Founded in 1970, University City Children’s Center (UCCC) provides a safe, nurturing environment where children from different socioeconomic, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds can learn and play together in an atmosphere that is respectful of diversity and
individuality. The non-profit, early childhood education center has served as a transformative model of quality, early care and education with innovative programming. UCCC prepares children to be curious and empathic, and for success in school and in life.

About LUME Institute: LUME Institute is an early childhood education provider that promotes innovative thinking, encourages personal exploration and offers a science-based inside-out approach to understanding how children learn and grow. The LUME approach is a framework and a way of being with children, and families that is rooted in a deep understanding that children’s emotional development is the foundation for lifelong health, growth and learning. The LUME approach provides practical ways educators can nurture the development of children and transform early childhood