Keep up with the latest news about Washtenaw Promise and our network of partners in the community.

A Gift for the Gift of Reading!

We are thrilled to share the incredible news that Washtenaw Promise has received a generous donation of $15,000 for our sponsorship of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

This heartwarming contribution comes from the wonderful 100+ Women Who Care Washtenaw County group. Their support ensures that the magic of reading will continue to be delivered to the doorsteps of eager young minds through 2024! We also wanted to thank the Ladies Literary Club of Ypsilanti, who not only helped the 100+ Women group choose us as their giving target this year but also gave us $5,600 in 2023.

A picture truly says a thousand words, and this check represents countless stories waiting to unfold. Thank you to 100+ Women Who Care for championing literacy and making a lasting impact on the lives of our young readers.

Washtenaw Promise launches new Bruin Lake Educational Center in 2023

We are happy to announce that our new Bruin Lake Educational Center is now under development and is expected to start offering outdoor opportunities for kids and teachers by the summer of 2023. At this facility located approximately 40 minutes west of Ypsilanti on Bruin Lake, we will bring children out of classrooms and into nature. The property is an astounding slice of nature, now with a profound promise of providing young minds with an outdoor experience and space to learn and grow.

Learn more here.

Upcoming Events

Our annual Community “Block Party Event will soon be scheduled for late August! Our partner organizations; Bob-a-loo, Pajama Program, Willow Run Acres, Imagination Library, Children’s Literacy Network, and many others will be joining us at the event to bring a host of activities for young kids to enjoy with their parents. Bob-a-loo will offer movement activities that incorporate literacy. Pajama Program will provide inspiring storybooks that are suitable for children to read at bedtime and promote healthy sleep. Willow Run Acres will demonstrate how to do step-by-step gardening Our Imagination Library program will present free and high-quality books for children from birth to age five. Children’s Literacy Network will hold fun interactive literacy-based activities for children and parents to participate together. We look forward to meeting you at the Literacy Event!

Bob-a-loo comes to another Ypsilanti Public Preschool!

Ruth Habrecht brings the acclaimed Bob-a-loo Program to Ford Early Learning Center

Bob-a-loo is a movement-based learning program for early childhood development. It is an interdisciplinary, multi-component program that incorporates mimicry of and identification with wild animals to help children develop gross motor skills, improve cognitive function, and work on social skills. Children build self-confidence as they tackle and overcome motor tasks and challenges. Bob-a-loo effectively addresses the physical and emotional health of children aged about 2-5 years and provides a non-competitive, creative and nurturing environment.

Washtenaw Promise is proud to be a full partner and supporter of the Bob-a-loo Program.

Willow Run Acres starts Appleridge Park Community Garden

Our good friend, T.C. Collins, founder of Willow Run Acres of Ypsilanti, has founded a new Community Garden at Appleridge Park in Ypsilanti. The gardens will be developed and ready for use this year!! Willow Run Acres provides a wide range of experiences including hands-on gardening, gardening classes and education, annual Potato Days, wellness ventures, sustainability in a holistic & healthy approach, garden safety classes, food distribution, role modeling/mentor opportunities, and other community engagements for individuals, groups, families, and businesses. They aim to promote sustainable gardening and farming within the community using a positive, encouraging, educational, and hands-on approach. TC started gardening and farming at 2-3 years old with his great great grandparents. He now manages many gardens and has reached over 2,500 students with his classes, workshops, volunteerism and community engagement through gardening and farming every year.

Please consider volunteering with Willow Run Acres and/or Washtenaw Promise in early April to help build the new community Garden at Appleridge Park!

Student Volunteers at Work

Washtenaw Promise now has nearly 100 volunteers working at Beatty Early Learning Center and Ford Early Learning Center, both public schools in Ypsilanti, serving over 250 children, ages 3-6. We are so proud of our volunteers from our partnership with the University of Michigan Project Outreach program, and a new alliance with Pi Beta Phi sorority which has connected us with over 40 dedicated volunteers. Together, these students are providing in-person mentoring, penpal relationships, video production and a variety of other supports to Washtenaw Promise and the kids we serve. Thanks so much to all our wonderful volunteers who are bringing their compassion, expertise and dedication to the children and teachers of Ypsilanti!

New Literacy Efforts Beginning in 2022!

We are proud to announce new 2022 collaborations with the Great Start Collaborative/Success by Six, the Children’s Literacy Network, Hutan for World Health and several other local non-profits, to develop an early childhood literacy collaborative, bringing talents, energies and resources to focus on strategic goals directed at increasing early childhood literacy in our community(ies); goals that will, when worked on collectively, be achieved sooner and with more power for change.

Our first annual Block Party at Fireman’s Park was a success! Why? Two reasons.

First, the kids had fun learning new things and demonstrated once again that they can do anything, be anything, and have no limits to what they can learn.

Secondly, our community is incredibly fortunate to have so many passionate and talented heroes who have dedicated their lives to the education and well-being of children and families.

When these things come together, there is always success to be found. We are so grateful to be a part of a community with all the promise that can be imagined, and more.

We would like to thank our planners and wonderful presenters…

Katie Watson, Washtenaw Promise and Beatty Early Learning Center
Amanda James-Bennett, Washtenaw Promise
Althea Wilson, Washtenaw Promise Board member and Head Start coach, WISD

Michael Wilson, veteran K-8 science and technology teacher and Rocketeer
Larry Biederman, veteran science teacher at all levels, and liquid nitrogen expert
Ruth Habrecht, Founder of Hutan and Bob-a-loo
TC Collins, owner, Willow Run Acres and gardening instructor extraordinaire
Scott Heister, Director of MiStem, WISD
Dan Schunck, Ypsilanti Community High School teacher, Grizzly Robotics guru, and his team
Carol and Jim McGrath, owners of Nature Discovery, reptile experts
Elizabeth Simon, PreK STEM program specialist, SAE International
Andrea Reynolds and her team, Hands On Museum
Libby Sheldon, early childhood specialist, Washtenaw Intermediate School District
Javon Jason, with Zumbini

…and our incredible community resource partners, contributors and great volunteers:

Mary Garbodin and her team from the Ypsilanti District Library
Kamilla Wilson from the Corner Heath
Charles Wilson, Washtenaw County Health Department
Rachel Carson and team, Ypsilanti Boy Scouts
Sentra Brownlee and Colleen Klaus, Trusted Parent Advisors Program
Amanda Crosby, Child Care Network
Jennifer Amburgey, My Community Dental Centers
Ginelle Skinner, Principal, and Stephanie Wilson, teacher, Beatty Early Learning Center
Rishi Narayan, Underground Printing
Shannon Baer, Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors
Collyer Smith and his team, Family Learning Institute
Damien Guyton, Wolfpack Cruiszers Ypsilanti Bicycle Club
Anthony Harbin, Washtenaw Promise Board Member
Michelle and Ben Mobius, dedicated students of the community
Marcy Schwab, parent, face-painter and partner, and Marly and Shy Anne
Connie Johnson, YCS cook extraordinaire
Nick Watson and the family
The Sheldon family
Nicole James and the kids

2021 and Beyond! The Future is Looking Bright for the WP Mission

2020 was a challenging year for so many people, with difficult sacrifices and losses due to covid. But the year also strengthened hope and resolve for a better world. Caring for those we love, and for those we hardly know, continue to define us and give shape to the future. 2020 brought us to new and stronger relationships, new skills and technologies, and a renewed sense of hope about our ability to solve problems and overcome adversity.

Our programs are moving forward, strong and sustainable, with an unwavering commitment to the future of every child.

For a look at the vibrant first three years of Washtenaw Promise, click here.


  • Our “Big Friends” preschool mentoring program continues into 2021 and beyond. This program has placed over 100 trained mentors one-on-one with preschool-aged children in Ypsilanti, in-person pre-covid, and online from 2020 to the present. Our strong and ever-growing network of volunteers comes through partnerships with the University of Michigan, Concordia University, Eastern Michigan University, and our communities. Click here for more info and to volunteer.
  • Over 100 book-readings and other educational videos, recorded by college and high school volunteers are now available here on our website.
  • Our “Act Me a Story” program is now producing videos of book readings by professional actors of color from around the country, in partnership with “PlayZoomers” of Boston, Mass. See the program here.
  • A 2021 $35K grant award from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund supports the learning-through-movement program, “Bob-a-loo”, allowing Ruth Habrecht and Washtenaw Promise to bring the program to Beatty Early Learning Center, Ford Early Learning Center, and BottlesNBackpacks Child Development Center. To learn more about Bob-a-loo, click here.

  • Our unique Teacher Wellness Program, addressing the stresses of preschool educators completed the first course with teachers from Beatty Early Learning Center. More to come!
  • Our Sponsorship of the “Imagination Library” in partnership with the Dolly Parton Foundation, is providing one book every month for over 800 children in the Ypsilanti community under the age of five.
  • In partnership with Willow Run Acres, we are now supporting the development of the Watch Me Grow Community Gardens at Apple Ridge Park. To learn more, click here.
  • As fiduciary on a 2021 $10,000 grant from the American Academy of Pediatrics, we support the current development of an Anti-racism toolkit for preschools.
  • We have recently been honored with an invitation from Washtenaw Intermediate School District (“WISD”) to serve on the select committee to update the Community Needs Assessment for 2021, and we’re proud to serve earlier this year as the community representative on the self-assessment team to evaluate Early Head Start programs in Washtenaw County.

An important initiative for 2021 and beyond, includes our planning and design for a cradle-to-career STEAM education, family empowerment, and career opportunity facility for Ypsilanti communities with low access to resources. This facility is planned to include: unique opportunities for public school students to gain education in the technical fields which lead directly to quality jobs of today, as well as a family empowerment center that focuses and coordinates community resources, career technical education, and entrepreneurial opportunities. For two years, Washtenaw Promise has played a key role in the development of this idea, and we have great expectations for its’ future. More news coming soon.

Tim Wilson,
Founder and Executive Director