DayCares & Schools Founded by Women

They usually start with Early Childhood Programs
operated from their homes...

They often grow these into Private Schools.

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Our Featured
Women Education Entrepreneurs
and the Early Childhood Programs and Schools they Founded.


The story of Women Owned Education and Childcare Enterprises, is the story of enterprising and determined female educators and moms. This includes women nursing babies, unemployed single moms, and school teachers wanting more for their own children (and communities) than their local districts had to offer. Could they find a way to give their children the best, serve their community, and still put food on the table? The women featured below, did just that. And across this land, thousands of micro and small start-ups are women educational enterprises providing an essential service and enriching American culture. Six out of the seven educational enterprises featured below, started in-home. This sector is by far, among the largest business enterprise sectors for women.

Sustaining the Multicultural Heritage that is the US: These women entrepreneurs speak English, Spanish, German, Mandarin, Russian, Hindi, Arabic and on and on. If there is a community of immigrants in the US arriving from anywhere outside the English speaking world, there is a licensed child care program some enterprising and socially conscious mom has established. These women educators are not just thinking of their own children, they want to assure that the rich language and culture of their heritage is preserved. In so doing, these women help make American culture as much a celebration of diversity, as a common core of democratic values. (Read about two great examples like Rella's Spielhaus and HudsonWay featured below.)

African American Women Have Been Particularly Prolific in this area. Twenty years ago my research documented 22 private grade schools founded in NYC by African American women. In establishing these schools, they not only provided an alternative to the low performing schools in their communities, but offered parents schools that would accurately and inclusively teach American history. Schools that would affirm the children as little ones whose lives mattered. Schools that would prepare them for the top high schools their parents wanted them to attend. (See schools like Cambria Center and The Garvey School featured below.) Also see the two (unrelated) Learning Tree schools in the Bronx and Queens. To view research that includes these schools visit the Association of Historically Black Independent Schools website (

Business as a Social Enterprise - Are women more inclined to establish social enterprises? Another interesting question. A woman education entrepreneur is a social entrepreneur. These women are mission oriented. They care at least as much about the good they are doing for society and children, as the bottom line. This, of course, makes their (our) work more challenging as opportunities for growth usually require loans and investors who often either see little value in these enterprises; or don't understand their needs and operations.

Building Without the Business Support Others Enjoy - Securing business loans, attracting investors, securing commercial real estate, and securing fair-wage government contracts, have all been hurdles for these women, particularly if they were black or Latina, or not fluent in English. Currently there is a movement to enroll these micro home-based enterprises in management companies. What are the implications for this sector? (I hope the scholars and grad students are reading this. Do pass these questions along!)

How to Support these Educational Enterprises? First recognize them as the great and valuable women’s enterprise sector that they are.   Share this list below of schools founded by these women widely. Encourage your neighbors with nursery or school-aged children to choose community-grown enterprises. That is, Buy Local! Scholars can help by focusing research on what these micro and small enterprises need to realize visions of growing into centers and schools. Policy people can become advocates.

Facing-business-sectors have a role as well.  Realtors, landlords, bankers, investors, and consulting firms could view these schools differently to mutual benefit.  To make the move from my home-based nursery to commercial space, I needed people who understood that Morningside PlayCare was a niche customer with niche needs and value. My real estate agent, Adam Malitz of Wakefield Cush, and my social media service Petia Bradshaw of the Styilsta Group, and my Accountant and Business Strategist distinguished themselves from the mainstream players in their sectors by understanding how we were different.

A Role for Donors: Most of the schools listed below have scholarship funds and a couple are even non-profits. Consider making a donation. Also, the pro bono legal services of VOLS and Brooklyn Legal Services, were essential to my efforts to establish my business and secure a wise commercial real estate lease. You can support these legal service organizations who help so many childcare enterprises; and also encourage the city to increase funding to these agencies.

And We Encourage Our Own Collaboration: Just last month, women founders from Manhattan and Queens collaborated to save one of their own who had been in business for 30 years. The school founder had lost her lease due to COVID and needed to raise $20,000 for the lease deposit on a new location. It might as well have been $200k! This touched all of our hearts as owners of education enterprises. And it was our responsiveness with zero interest loans, even as we each were, ourselves, in survival mode, that inspired me to share our story. We are a mighty group. And I hope we inspire you.

Please enjoy reading the stories below, and forward and share widely this list of Women Ed Entrepreneurs and their Businesses. These women are among today's heroes - providing an essential service, still afloat, and determined as ever after this incredible year.

Gail Foster, Ed.D.
Founder and CEO, Morningside PlayCare

A Mandarin AND Spanish Immersion Nursery & UPK

Gail Foster, Ed.D. Morningside PlayCare
After returning from a tour of private schools in Belgium and France, Gail decided to establish a demonstration school. She had embarked upon this tour to understand how children whose parents did not speak the language could become so competent. How was it that five-year-olds could be fluent in English, and 16-year-olds could read English classics and write sophisticated critiques - using second language skills acquired only in school? Once she understood the model, Gail aka (Dr. Foster) came back to the US with a big vision: Demonstrate how Americans could make their own citizenry bi or multi lingual. With a background as a high school teacher and school administrator, she, like Sharon Huang, started in her home, and worked closely with early childhood and language specialists to design an effective research-based model. The Mandarin and Spanish demonstration project was a success and a new site will open in the fall on 93rd off Columbus serving infants and hosting a Dual Language UPK. Morningside PlayCare is a member of the Asia Society's Chinese Early Language and Immersion Network.
Twenty-two years of Developing Children's Hearts and Minds

Janay Shabazz, Shugah Baybees

Shugah Baybees early childhood education center was founded in 1997, by the Owner/CEO, Janay Shabazz. With her strong commitment to quality preschool education and her desire to foster an immersive learning environment, Shugah Baybees has grown from serving 16 to now serving 60 families in NYC. In Fall 2019, Shugah Baybees opened a school at 129 West 138th Street, in Harlem directly across from the landmark Abyssinia Baptist Church.. The new location has over 9,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space to foster an interactive learning environment for children 3 months to 4 years.

Need Info on your Background.

Five High Quality Options in Upper Manhattan; Spanish; and a UPK
Priscilla Novas, Future Prints

She has turned one home-based childcare into a network of five home home-based childcares all under her umbrella company, Future Prints. A Washington Heights native with a degree in Health Services, this former babysitter and family tutor, turned childcare entrepreneur has been dedicated to community service since a young teen. Priscilla saw the  need for high quality early care and education in her community and wanted to step-up-to-the plate.  Today her network serves children ages zero to five in Washington Heights, Hamilton Heights, and Harlem. Last year she landed a contract with the City of New York to provide PreK Services for 3 and 4 year olds. Her programs also include a Spanish immersion option. A true collaborator, Priscilla is a co-founder of the Manhattan Early Childhood Alliance.
Two Mandarin & Spanish Immersion Schools, NY & NJ

Sharon knew that she wanted her young twin boys to speak the language of their heritage. But where?  In the mold of our best entrepreneurs she started a Mommy & Me with 5 children and ran it out of her basement.  With no background at the time in early childhood education, she hired a teacher, and served in the capacity of the Assistant teacher.  Today HudsonWay Immersion School (HWIS) serves preschool through 8th grade children, teaching them Mandarin and Spanish and English at high levels of literacy. A co-ed, private day school with campuses located in Stirling, New Jersey, and Midtown West, New York City, HudsonWay has been a pioneer in language immersion education. HWIS was the firs immersion school in New York City offering a choice of Spanish or Mandarin. They have have just launched a new Accelerated Learning Track in middle school to facilitate students entering 6th grade with no previous exposure to immersion. HWIS enrolls over 200 students across its two campuses, 80% of whom do not speak the target language at home.
A City Block of N - 8 Excellence

This Nursery through 8th grade private school serves 300 children on the Queens/Nassau County border.  From her humble beginnings in her garage, her school now spreads (and owns) a whole city block. Sheree, who was born in the US but raised in Jamaica, is a premier business woman; but first she was a NYC public school teacher. Disappointed in the public school options then in her community, she wanted something outstanding for her own children and for her neighborhood.  CCGC was started as a licensed Day Care in 1980 with her first child as her first student. An accelerated curriculum and an intensive music program have been integral to Sheree's school from the beginning. At Cambria teachers could accurately and fully teach the history of all cultures, including people of African ancestry, Asian ancestry, Latinx ancestry, and Native American ancestry. Her middle school students travel globally each year to places like Ghana and Egypt. Their students are rigorously recruited by top public and private high schools citywide. Sheree is also founder of the Queens Directors Alliance and a member of the Association of Historically Black Independent Schools.
German Language & Lots of Arts

Barbara Rellstab, Rella's Spielhaus

Before building her school, Barbara was a Broadway actor and singer.  Then suddenly she found herself joining the ranks of the unemployed single moms.  How would she support her 2 year old son?  She decided to build on what she was already doing with her son and his friends, - singing and dancing and exploring the world around them together - in German. Founded in her Harlem home in 2011, the school moved to a brand new location on West 97th Street in 2020. Barbara is the founding director of the first German Language Daycare and Preschool in Manhattan. Her enterprise has become her calling and includes tutoring and After School programs. Barbara is humbled to be offering a cultural home for German language descent families and those interested in the German language. And now her 12 year old son has a mom for a business role model, and is fluent in his heritage language and culture. Barbara is a co-founder of the Manhattan Early Childhood Alliance.
A Rigorous N - 6 Option in the Northeast Bronx,
June O'Connor, The Garvey School
June was frustrated by the limited educational opportunities existing in The Bronx for her daughter. In response, she started homeschooling. The word spread, and soon neighbors and friends joined the effort, and The Garvey School was born. (The school is named for Marcus Garvey, the African American self-reliance and self-determination activist who led a movement in the 1920s.). The school boasts a combination of traditional and progressive curriculum that includes violin, French, and Spanish; and a rigor that has children performing two grades above level. The Garvey School prides itself on its ability to provide a nurturing and supportive environment where students are encouraged to take intellectual risks and to develop themselves spiritually.
An Early Focus on Special Needs
Claudia Stedge, LMSW, M.Ed. Partnership for Education

The Partnership provides therapeutic services to children with disabilities and/or developmental delays and their families. Claudia started out as a pre-school teacher /director in a program for children with differing abilities; then became a social worker for families with young children with autism and mental challenges. Soon she was operating her own pre-school. And then that pre-school became a resource for those in need of developmental assessments. Like all of our ed entrepreneurs she sought to provide high quality education (and assessments) for children and families who had little access. She believes that educators should partner with families and that professional services should be based on the latest research on brain development. Claudia serves as a developmental specialist consultant to early childhood programs in the city and upstate.

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Morningside PlayCare