STARS is a major investment from GAR Foundation designed to engage a cohort of community-based early learning centers in high-quality early childhood instructional development. Started in 2019, STARS 101 provides expert tools and support to help early learning centers navigate the state‚Äôs quality rating system, Step Up to Quality (SUTQ), and increase their ratings over two years. A majority of the participants in our original cohort have become highly rated and have been awarded continued support with new funding from the GAR Foundation to support literacy and math skills of young children. We are calling the ongoing support, STARS 202. A new cohort of child care programs has been recruited to receive STARS 101 supports. 


  • A Beautiful Child Preschool & Daycare
  • Bloomers Daycare Center
  • Brightstart Early Preschool, LLC 
  • Jerry Shaw Jewish Community Center of Akron
  • June's Jungle 
  • Little Leaders 
  • Mckinley Early Learning Center #4 
  • Precious Moments 


  • Abacus Childcare Center
  • Cascade Village YMCA
  • Color Our Rainbow Academy
  • Emmanual Christian Academy
  • Forward Thinking, Caring Hearts
  • Glory Hallelujah Childcare
  • Grandma's Place
  • Hope Early Care & Education Center
  • Irma Jones Preschool
  • Kozmic Korner (East Akron)
  • Kozmic Korner (Downtown Akron)
  • Kozmic Korner (Fairlawn)
  • Little's Academy
  • Little Discoverers
  • Lois Lesters Learning Center
  • McKinley Early Learning Center #2
  • Once Upon A Daycare & Preschool Center
  • Rosa's Playhouse
  • Salvation Army Learning Zone Preschool
  • The Growing Patch
  • Westminister YMCA
  • Wonder World
  • YMCA Family Enrichment Center 

Research tells us that high-quality teaching and engaged learning means better outcomes for kids and greater kindergarten readiness. We know that helping young children ages 3-5 get the right start is the most important investment we can make in the educational continuum.

A new state mandate will require early learning providers that receive public subsidy to enroll in SUTQ by 2020 and to earn three or more stars by 2025, in order to continue receiving public subsidy. While SUTQ is the current and best available common indicator of early learning quality, we also know that many centers cannot afford the training and necessary supports to improve their SUTQ ratings.

STARS helps alleviate the financial and capacity challenges many centers face to meet staff training requirements. This initiative complements the State of Ohio's $73 million annual investment in improving quality in early learning centers, so our initiative supports quality at community-based preschools, thereby lifting the entire local sector.

The STARS initiative addresses gaps in the early childhood education system, and seeks to demonstrate how effective teaching and engagement tactics can support meaningful educational advancements for young children. Our goal is to help our youngest children be ready for kindergarten through advanced teaching methods.