About Us
For over 133 years, Columbus Early Learning Centers (CELC) has been providing high-quality early learning and care to Columbus children. Our tradition of affordable access to high-quality early childhood education has strengthened the lives of thousands of children, families and the communities in which they live.

On January 23rd, 1887, Columbus Early Learning Centers welcomed their very first students. After months of planning by dedicated members of the Columbus community, a one room nursery was established to serve low income families at the Women’s Educational and Industrial Union at 65 South Fourth Street. A day nursery allowed mothers to work and older siblings to attend school, while their children and younger siblings spent the day in a safe and nurturing environment. At the end of the first year, the daily average at our nursery was five children and tuition was a mere five cents per day.

In the 130+ years since our creation, we have more than outgrown that first one room nursery on South Fourth Street. We currently operate four centers in the Linden and Near East neighborhoods of Columbus, and we are looking forward to expanding into Franklinton in the Fall 2019. We use a play-based curriculum and positive discipline in our classrooms to meet the needs of our 300 students. Our student to teacher ratios exceed state requirements, allowing our teachers to provide more attentive care and individualized instruction to prepare every child for kindergarten. Our centers are accredited by the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services' Step Up to Quality Program.

More information about our program is available in our 2018 Family Guide.

Our Mission

To help your learners develop, families succeed, and neighborhoods thrive.

Our Vision

All children have an early learning experience that gives them a foundation for future success in school and in life.

Our Values

  • Access, Equity and Inclusion
    We welcome all children and families regardless of background and need.
  • Safe Haven
    The physical and emotional safety of our children and families is the foundation of our work.
  • Play to Learn
    A child’s freedom to explore and create fosters meaningful cognitive, physical and social emotional development.
  • Growth Mindset
    We promote organizational sustainability through learning and collaboration in our classrooms, conference rooms, board room and neighborhoods we serve.
  • Passionately Committed
    Our early childhood professionals are driven by the respect and empathy needed to nurture each child’s excellence.
  • Making A Difference
    Our team and community partners do what it takes to advocate for changing the landscape, systems and policies for early childhood education.

Take a Look Around

Days at Columbus Early Learning Centers are fun-filled. See what fun we've been up to lately.

Learning about bees!
Learning about bees!
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Our therapy dog, Scarlet
Our therapy dog, Scarlet
Working on fine motor skills
Working on fine motor skills
What will you be when you grow up?
Water day for the Gators class
Water day for the Gators class
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Sharing our poems with Ms. Caitlin
A visit from the fire truck
A visit from the fire truck
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Our Main St. Location Playground
Our Main St. Location Playground
Enjoying a morning walk
Enjoying a morning walk
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Reading with volunteer, Mr. Pete
Reading with volunteer, Mr. Pete
Washing our trikes