Merit Learning Center Awarded Good Neighbor Grant

The Merit Learning Center has received a Good Neighbor grant award for $10,000 from the Community Foundation of Elkhart County.

The award will help Merit Learning Center (MLC) by providing additional funding to install an external door in a classroom used by the Early Head Start (EHS) Program. Goshen Community Schools’ Merit Learning Center and Head Start have been in partnership since 2010, and the Head Start Consortium has paid for many building improvements at MLC over the course of the partnership. At this time, an exterior door enables the MLC/EHS partnership to meet childcare licensing requirements, address the unique developmental needs of all children ages 0-3 in age-appropriate classrooms, and provide the teen parents access to education and other community resources.

“We believe that Merit Learning Center is another excellent example of our mission to improve the quality of life in Elkhart County by inspiring generosity,” said Pete McCown, president of the Community Foundation. “We are pleased with what they’ve presented to us and we expect them to be successful in their efforts. Merit Learning Center and Early Head Start are vital links in the chain of non-profit entities that are improving our quality of life in Elkhart County.”

“Since the partnership between Merit Learning Center and Early Head Start, we have seen our graduation rate for young parents dramatically increase,” said Kristen Watt, principal at Merit Learning Center. “The MLC/EHS partnership serves children (ages 0-3) of teen parents. The parent cannot be older than 19 years old at the time their child enrolls in the EHS Program, and many parents of EHS children enroll at Merit Learning Center. The program is unique in that the child can continue in the EHS Program until he/she turns three years old, as long as the parent is working and/or attending a post-secondary educational program.”

Merit Learning Center (MLC) is an accredited alternative school that serves five public school corporations in Elkhart County for students in grades 10-12.  MLC strives to ensure that each student leaves the program with a high school diploma or at minimum, the skills and resources necessary to continue their education and job-advancement in the future. MLC operates two sessions during the school day which allows for flexible scheduling.  The setting is small, structured, and nurturing; and courses are self-paced.  Apex Learning is used to deliver much of the curriculum, however students may be required to complete independent projects, laboratory investigations and problem-based learning activities for certain courses. For more information about Merit Learning Center, visit the website at or call 574-533-9743.

About the Community Foundation of Elkhart County.

In more than 25 years of service, the Community Foundation of Elkhart County has developed over $235 million in assets with 350-plus endowed funds. It has awarded more than $62 million in grants. Its stated mission is “to improve the quality of life in Elkhart County by inspiring generosity.”