Cornerstone Center (originally Helping Hand Day Care Center) was founded in September 1969 by a group of churches on the Near South Side whose members recognized a need for child care provided on an income-adjusted basis. From its inception, the school has been a nonprofit, secular program, and has welcomed a diverse population of children from working families. In 1974, the Center became a United Way agency. A decade later, Cornerstone’s long-standing commitment to quality education was evidenced when it became the first program in St. Louis, and the third in Missouri, to attain accredited status.
In 1994, with the support from the 39th Street Redevelopment Corporation and a network of funders, the school (now known as Cornerstone Center for Early Learning) acquired a historic building in the Shaw Neighborhood, and began to expand, renovate, and equip it to serve more working families. This self-contained facility opened January 1995, and offered an Infant/Toddler program for the first time in the Center’s history. At this time, the number of classrooms doubled and the teaching staff tripled. In 2000 and 2007, Cornerstone Center completed modest expansions. At present, 162 children from six weeks to six years fill 12 bright classrooms; their education is guided by a caring, knowledgeable staff.Cornerstone is a well-respected leader in the early education community. In honor of our commitment to students with special needs, Cornerstone received the 2006 “Stellar Performer” award for our field from Variety the Children’s Charity of St. Louis. In 2007, the St. Louis County YWCA Head Start named our program its “Outstanding Partnership.” Most recently, Cornerstone was one of only eight recipients statewide to be awarded a Missouri Preschool Project grant, and one of eleven selected for a Missouri Infant/Toddler Expansion grant.