News continues to circulate about companies and individuals stepping up to aid those fighting on the front lines of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Many leading this charge are MSU alumni who are acting in the “Spartans Will” spirit by standing together and being resourceful to overcome this challenge.
One alumnus, Mark Bierley (B.A. Accounting ’88), is prioritizing child care services for first responders across the nation. Bierley is CEO of Learning Care Group — a leader in early childhood education and the second largest child-care provider in North America with over 900 schools — which is working to ensure families serving response and recovery efforts can continue in their vital roles.
“Due to COVID-19, over the past few weeks, 75% of child-care facilities across the country have been forced to shut their doors, many of which may never reopen,” Bierley said. “We know that school closures can affect not only learning but nutrition and other critical services such as health care,” he said, noting that Learning Care Group’s USDA-sponsored food programs serve more than 22 million meals each year.
“At Learning Care Group, we’re continuing to provide families with high-quality early education and care so that, if their situation allows, they can continue to work.”
Bierley shared that Learning Care Group has shifted operations to offer child-care hub centers, following guidance from the CDC and state and local officials to maintain a healthy school environment.
“We already follow very specific protocols to remain in compliance with state licensing regulations and to ensure we provide families with a high-quality experience — particularly when it comes to health and safety,” Bierley said. “In order to address the current health crisis and keep our children and team members safe, we’ve made those hygiene, cleaning and sanitation protocols even more rigorous. Our employees have been extremely vigilant on safety throughout all of this, all the while making sure to provide a sense of normalcy and positivity for the children.”
In addition, Bierley said Learning Care Group has ramped up its online resources for families who are unable to attend preschools amid the pandemic.
“We know that families don’t want their children to fall behind,” Bierley said. “So, the experts from our Education Team created a one-stop shop with activities, projects, craft ideas, tips for maintaining daily routines and more to help make the most of this time. There’s material for infants through school-agers to help parents work and play with their children in many of the same ways our teachers do at school.”
Bierley says partnerships, relationships and collaboration have been key in Learning Care Group’s response, not only with state and local leaders across the country but also with the families it serves.
“It’s extremely important to us to maintain strong relationships with our school families, and that starts with ensuring solid communication,” Bierley said. “We use an app called Brightwheel to stay connected with families during the school day — share learning updates, the ‘wow’ moments, and provide any important reminders in real time. That’s particularly important now, as we want to ensure families have peace of mind.”
As advice for fellow Spartans navigating this uncertain time, Bierley said, “It’s about resiliency and innovation. It’s amazing how quickly we can pivot as a country, driven by creative thinking — especially from young people — as we figure out ways to make it work and get it done.”
Bierley is one of the many Broad Spartan alumni who are standing together to make a difference in this critical time, serving as an inspiration for Spartans to reach higher and persevere together.