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2020 Message From the Executive Director

ECC Executive Director Karen Rattenborg outlines how the ECC responded when the pandemic hit and how donors and friends are an important piece of the puzzle for recovery.

Karen Rattenborg with children in the new library

Threefold Mission

The CSU Early Childhood Center (ECC) is a laboratory school with a threefold mission to (a) prepare university students for careers in the field of early childhood; (b) provide opportunities for research related to children, families, and early childhood education; and (c) offer a developmentally appropriate, Reggio Emilia-inspired learning environment for young children. Each year, the ECC serves approximately 150 children (ages 6 weeks to 6 years) while simultaneously training more than 120 students from various departments across campus including Design and Merchandising; Food Science and Human Nutrition; Human Development and Family Studies; Occupational Therapy; the School of Education; and the School of Theatre, Music, and Dance.

Children looking at a plant with a teacher

2020 Milestones and Highlights

The ECC lost a great friend when Marie Macy passed away in January of 2020. Marie inspired countless children and students at the Colorado State University Preschool, now the ECC, where she worked for 18 years. In 2015, she continued her dedication to CSU’s youngest Rams through a generous gift to the Marie Macy Director’s Legacy Endowment to benefit the ECC. Learn more about Marie and make a gift in her honor on her Legacies Project honoree page.

When Colorado State University went virtual in March due to the spread of COVID-19, staff, families, and children of the ECC did not think being closed for two weeks would turn into 15. As the state of Colorado emerged from its stay-at-home order, it was clear that multiple changes would need to occur to reopen the ECC to keep staff, families, and children healthy.

The ECC is participating in a collaborative exhibition that will open at the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver in September 2021. “Clyfford Still, Art, and the Young Mind” will examine the aesthetic preferences of early learners using Clyfford Still’s artworks as a basis for study. The infants at the ECC will be reacting to and helping select the paintings for the high-contrast gallery. The older children at the ECC will also be helping museum staff design a “Making Space” area at the museum.

ECC’s Teaching Mission

The ECC’s Teaching mission is to prepare university students for careers in the field of early childhood. In total, 72 CSU students were active at the ECC.

Human Development and Family Studies

HDFS Practicum Students: 8
HDFS Interns: 14

Total: 22

Food Science and Human Nutrition

FSHN Students: 14 volunteers
Paid student coordinator: 1
Student dishwasher: 1

Total: 14

Center for Educator Preparation

EDUC 425 Practicum Students: 7
EDUC 340 Literacy Fieldwork Students: 24

Total: 31

Occupational Therapy

OT Graduate Interns: 2

Music, Theatre, and Dance

Music Therapy Practicum Students: 3

Budding Artists

ECC Tip Sheets for Parents

In response to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and racial violence in 2020, the ECC published a series of tip sheets for parents and families.

ECC’s Service Mission

The ECC’s research mission is to offer a developmentally appropriate, Reggio Emilia-inspired learning environment for young children.

  • 121 children from 100 families
  • 26 infants and toddlers
  • 95 preschoolers
  • 60 were children of CSU faculty/staff
  • 20 were children of CSU students
  • 41 were children of community members

ECC Grants

The ECC receives grants from multiple sources to provide financial support to families with children enrolled at the ECC. These funds serve to make access to child care services more affordable for families and to increase the retention and graduation rates of CSU student parents.


The ECC supports student parents through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) provides financial support for campus-based childcare services to income-eligible CSU student parents.

  • In 2020, 15 children from 14 families received CCAMPIS funds.
  • In 2021, the ECC will be submitting a proposal to the U.S. Department of Education to continue this program for the years 2022-2026.

Temple Hoyne Buell Foundation

Parents with children enrolled at the ECC benefit from the generous support of the Temple Hoyne Buell Foundation.

  • In 2020, 17 children from 17 families received Temple Hoyne Buell funds.
  • In 2021, the ECC has submitted a $40,000 proposal to the Buell Foundation to continue this collaboration.

Colorado Preschool Program

This grant provides slots at the ECC for Poudre School District children participating in the Colorado Preschool Program (CPP). CPP is a state-funded early childhood education program run by the Colorado Department of Education.

  • In 2020, 18 children from 18 families received CPP Funds.
  • In 2021, the ECC has submitted an RFP to PSD to continue this collaboration for 2 more years.

Private Support

The ECC has three CSU Foundation accounts that private donors can contribute to to help us provide outstanding, high-quality care to children: Early Childhood Center, ECC Serving Diverse Populations, and Marie Macy Director’s Legacy.

In 2020, the ECC received more than $170,000 in donations from 98 donors. A large portion of these gifts were in honor of Marie Macy. Due to the pandemic, donor funds are now being utilized to maintain general ECC operations and all efforts to improve the ECC grounds and expand program offerings are currently on hold. Funds are still utilized to promote access for diverse populations, at-risk children, and income eligible student parents.

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