A state-of-the-art facility for the Head Start program on the Fort Berthold Reservation will open next month for children through age 5.
Officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday for the $2.3 million Crestwood Maagarishda Center, which includes a room to help children with motor skills, as well as a new playground.
Crestwood, which operates a pipeline system on the reservation, provided $2 million for the building. The company also launched a fundraising campaign and got other oil companies to donate to sustain the facility, according to Daubs Thompson, Crestwood's vice president and associate general counsel.
Head Start is a federal prekindergarten program for low-income families that promotes school readiness.
Thompson said Crestwood previously learned from tribal leadership about the needs for a new Head Start building. The company, which has more than 150 employees in North Dakota, often invests in the communities it's in, which Thompson called "good business practice."
The Three Affiliated Tribes Head Start program previously operated out of a one-room modular building that was in need of repairs and couldn't accommodate more than 20 students, according to Kelly Bradfield, director of the program.
"We knew eventually that we were going to need to produce something more modern, more safe, and that's what we received from Crestwood," Bradfield said. "They helped create a dream for our babies."
The Crestwood Maagarishda Center can now accommodate 40 students. Maagarishda means "child" in the Hidatsa language.
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Bradfield said they've had 30 parents enroll their children in Head Start this year, which she attributes to the construction of the new facility.
The center was originally set to open in fall 2017, but Thompson said "usual construction delays" hindered the opening.
Crestwood operates the Arrow Gathering System, which gathers crude oil, natural gas and water on the reservation, as well as in McKenzie and Dunn counties. Crestwood acquired the system in 2013.
Bradfield said she's thankful for the the donation from Crestwood.
"You'll hear about all the bad things that the oil industry has brought in," but this is a positive contribution that hopefully other "oil companies will follow," she said.
Classes at the Crestwood Maagarishda Center will begin Aug. 19.
In addition to the new Head Start facility, the Three Affiliated Tribes has provided $40 million for a new K-12 building that will be about a half-mile from the Head Start building, according to Bradfield. The school is to open in 2021.
"Within a couple years, we'll have a full foundation for education, preschool through high school," she said.