Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Riverview Children?s Center to Undergo $2.5 Million Expansion

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Riverview Children?s Center to Undergo $2.5 Million Expansion

Article excerpt

An early learning and child care center in Verona is preparing to undergo a multimillion-dollar makeover, seeking to expand its offerings amid limited space and a long waiting list.

Expanding and renovating the Riverview Children's Center has become a priority for the decades-old institution, which has added accommodations in the past but has found itself unable to host larger functions. And although it's one of many early learning centers in the Pittsburgh region, it has a waiting list of more than 100 children.

"We're bursting at the seams," said Betty Lisowski, executive director.

Expected to begin in a couple of months, the project will expand the 8,500-square-foot center by more than half its size, to about 13,500 square feet. A new classroom and a multipurpose room are planned as well as space for a kitchen.

The project is estimated to cost about $2.5 million, which the independent nonprofit will pay for through a fundraising effort it launched in 2014. Most of the money has come from grants from the state, Allegheny County and foundations, but individual donations have also trickled in.

"This is by far the most ambitious undertaking we've ever had," Ms. Lisowski said, noting that it's the most money the nonprofit has ever sought to raise for a capital project. She praised some local legislators, saying their advocacy for affordable early childhood education has helped draw funds from the state.

Although it had yet to reach its fundraising goal as of early this month - by about $300,000 - construction is expected to begin in March, she said. It is to finish by the end of the summer, with interior renovations taking place afterward.

Offering prekindergarten education and before- and after-school programs for students in grades K-5, the Riverview Children's Center was built in 1979, years after its founder started a program nearby for preschool-age children.

About 130 children are enrolled at the center, which also uses a classroom at Verner Elementary School, a 10-minute walk away, for prekindergarten children. More than half of the children are from Oakmont and Verona, with others coming from elsewhere, including Tarentum, New Kensington and other places in Armstrong and Butler counties. …

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