Our History

Telling the Story of Our Tradition of Excellence

For over 130 years, CELC has been providing child care and early childhood education services to Columbus children. In December of 1886, a meeting was held in the chapel of the First Presbyterian Church to discuss plans and purposes relating to the organization of a society, "whose object should be to extend a helping hand and genuine Christian home to those of our toiling sisters, dependent upon their own exertion for their daily bread."

On January 23, 1887, Columbus Early Learning Center was created by dedicated members of our community to fulfill the purpose of the “advancement of working women.” Among the oldest early care and education programs in the country, we continue to be devoted to nurturing and educating young children of low-income families.

At the end of the first year, the daily average at our nursery was five children and tuition per child was a mere five cents per day. The actual cost for each child was seventeen cents, which entitled the youngster to remain in the Nursery from 6 A.M. to 6:30 P.M. and included meals, attention to personal cleanliness and proper conditioning of clothing.

Today, we continue this tradition of affordable access to high-quality early childhood education. As a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, our mission is "doing what it takes to deliver the best early learning experiences and family support so every child succeeds in school and in life." Our long history has strategically positioned us to address the lack of access to early learning opportunities in Columbus and our services have strengthened the lives of thousands of children and their families in our community.

*The information quoted in this section comes from a report regarding CELC's history up to 1962. If you would like to read the full report, please contact us at info@columbusearlylearning.org.