Earlier this month, Concordia Place President/CEO Brenda Swartz was a featured guest on the Lincoln Radio Journal where she recounted the founding of Concordia Place.
The founding is the story of the Three Barbaras. It starts in 1981 with three single mothers—all named Barbara—who needed care for their children after school, and Concordia Lutheran Church, a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA). The three Barbaras asked the church for help with child care. The list of reasons to say “no” was long. The Church had never done this before. The Church was struggling financially. The women were not even members of the Church.
Yet with a belief to serve the larger community beyond the walls of its members, Concordia Church responded and worked with the three Barbaras to start the Concordia Child Care Center in the lower level of the church to provide after-school and full-day summer care for children 6–13 years old. The school-age program was geared for working parents and open full days when schools were closed.
In 1989, the Center expanded to include full-day preschool for children ages three to five years old. With a growing wait list, Concordia Lutheran Church purchased a vacant church and school to expand to serve the neighboring Avondale community. In 2002, Concordia Place was created, and the Concordia Child Care Center was included in this new nonprofit organization and continues to serve parents with children ages 2–5 years old. Opening in 2006, Concordia on Whipple replicates our successful preschool and school-age programs, while also serving infants and toddlers, and providing teen leadership, adult learning, and personalized one-on-one family support and Home Visiting for new and expecting mothers.
Throughout our history, we find a way to say Yes—such as serving more communities, adding programs for more ages, and even providing emergency child care services and pivoting programs to serve during strikes and pandemics. This mindset drives us to meet growing and changing needs with innovative solutions. We find resources, turn possibilities into realities, and remain fresh and cutting edge.
Concordia Place continues to find a way to say “Yes” for the children, youth, and families it serves. In 2016, Concordia on Ravenswood was opened in the Ravenswood community. Concordia on Milwaukee was opened in 2018 in the Old Irving Park community. Today, Concordia Place serves over 800 children, youth, teens, and families from ethnically, linguistically, economically diverse, diverse communities in Chicago.
As a learning organization, Concordia Place is committed to continued improvement. We have learned that distinguishing between the Concordia Place and Concordia Day brands was not necessary.
Starting May 1, all visitors to concordiaday.org will be redirected to day.concordiaplace.org
By unifying around the sole use of the Concordia Place brand, we will provide clarity and focus on our mission to serve families and provide both care and education for their children.