Helping Hands Day Care Center (to become Cornerstone Center for Early Learning), was founded by a group of churches on the near South Side whose members recognized a need for income-based child care. On opening day, there was one classroom, one teacher (Wanda Diedriech, who also assumed the role of Program Director), and one student at the new program at the Compton Heights Christian Church.
Helping Hand Day Care Center attained its 501c3 status as a tax exempt nonprofit.
Helping Hand Day Care Center became a United Way of Greater St. Louis partner agency.
Helping Hand Day Care Center became the first accredited early childhood center in the city of St. Louis and the third in the state of Missouri.
Wanda Diedriech retired after 20 years of devoted service.
Kathryn Zellich was hired as Program Director.
Helping Hand Day Care Center changed its name to Cornerstone Center for Early Learning in preparation for expansion into its own building.
Cornerstone Center acquired the current building at 3901 Russell Boulevard (corner of Russell Boulevard and 39th Street) in the Shaw neighborhood.
Kathryn Zellich was named as Executive Director.
The new building opened at 3901 Russell. For the first time, Cornerstone Center also served children under the age of two (Infants and Toddlers). The building at 3901 Russell doubled the number of classrooms and tripled the number of teachers. Cornerstone Center was now licensed to serve 116 children daily. And the center was full!
Cornerstone Centers became a Head Start partner site with the YWCA.
With a need to serve even more children, the lower level was renovated to serve an additional 20 children.
In order to continue to expand the number of children served, Cornerstone Center acquired the adjacent property at 3910 Castleman.
The expansion/renovation at 3910 Castleman was completed, and the new building was named “Jack’s House,” in memory of the father of a very generous Cornerstone donor (who wishes to remain anonymous). With the additional space, Cornerstone Center could now serve another 26 children and a total center capacity of 162.
Cornerstone Center was one of only eight agencies to receive a Missouri preschool grant and one of only 11 agencies to receive an Infant/Toddler Expansion grant. These grants allowed Cornerstone Center to serve more children under the age of 2, thus meeting a community need for affordable infant care.
Cornerstone Center received the Outstanding Partnership Award from YWCA Head Start.
In order to meet developmental needs and prepare children better for preschool (ages 3-5), the 2 year-old program was divided into two classifications: 2 – 2 ½; 2½ – 3.
Kathryn Zellich retired after 19 years of devoted service. Jerry Ehrlich, a non-profit leader in St. Louis for over 25 years, became the new Executive Director. Cornerstone Center began a path toward major improvements and growth – in terms of fundraising, infrastructure, awareness, governance, education, programming, administration, and volunteerism.
A Missouri Department of Social Services grant enabled Cornerstone Center to update classrooms, convert the second floor staff lounge into a classroom, and convert the lower level classroom into an indoor multi-purpose/gross motor room.
After 16 years, Cornerstone Center moved its main fundraiser, Round-Up, off-site in order to increase attendance and revenue. The event raised approximately $35,000, almost doubling the previous year’s total.
Cornerstone Center published its first newsletter.
For the first time, Cornerstone Center received accreditation from the Better Business Bureau.
Cornerstone Center established the Leslie M. Goldberg Tribute Fund in honor of Cornerstone Center’s 20-year Board member, leader, and visionary. The fund began with a 5-year, $250,000 pledge.
Upon the recommendation of Child Care Aware of Missouri, a community resource on childcare throughout the state, Cornerstone Center was singled out as an “outstanding day care center” by Fox2.
The United Way of Greater St. Louis selected Cornerstone Center as one of three agencies to be featured in its campaign video.
Cornerstone Center received a 5-year Missouri Accreditation renewal.
Cornerstone Center was featured on the front page of the Education Section of the Old Newsboys Day edition of the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
Leslie M. Goldberg and Susan Goldberg were named Board Members Emeritus, the first to receive this title and honor.
Cornerstone Center switched its educational curriculum from Project Construct to Creative Curriculum, a research-based curriculum that identifies 38 objectives for kindergarten readiness, and offers Cornerstone teachers the tools to achieve these objectives.
Cornerstone Center renamed its major fundraiser from Round-Up to Celebration for Children. The event raised an all-time high of approximately $100,000.
Cornerstone Center again received the Stellar Performance Award from Variety the Children’s Charity of St. Louis.
Cornerstone Center held its inaugural Trivia Night to raise awareness and funds.
Cornerstone Center formed a volunteer group, the Cornerstone Center Young Professionals, a group of individuals in their 20’s and 30’s designed to increase Cornerstone’s awareness and revenue.
The Cornerstone Young Professionals organized and hosted an inaugural 5K run/walk & barbecue. The first year event attracted 140 participants.
Celebration for Children raised a new all-time high of approximately $160,000.