MARSHALL, Il (WTHI) – A popular day care center in Marshall, Illinois, recently received a large $140,000 loan from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The USDA has a popular loan program that is designed to help serve rural communities who are in need of expedited funding to cover necessary expenses. The USDA and the City of Marshall have been working closely with ‘First Step Academy’ to help bolster their services.

‘First Step Academy’ was founded in 2012 by Cassie Howard. Initially, the academy was a morning day care center. After a few years, the needs of the community changed, and the academy decided to become a full-day day care center. Because of this, and because of the additional number of enrolled students, Howard recognized that the academy was going to need some upgrades in order to keep up with the increases in demand. 

“It was mainly because of the need in this community and in this town. There were really just no options for parents” said Howard about her decision to pursue the loan.

According to Howard, the money goes toward building four new classrooms, bathrooms, building repairs, and to pay for longer staffed hours.

“I’m grateful to the city for bringing this to my attention, and this would not have been possible without this loan” says Howard. 



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