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Canvas Early Learning Center To Open New Location At UMW This Fall

Canvas Early Learning Center (ELC), a non-profit early education program in Dillon, Montana, will open a new location this fall on the University of Montana Western campus, as part of a partnership to expand licensed, quality infant and childcare in Beaverhead County through a Childcare Innovations Grant.

The grant is part of a state-wide initiative directed by the Early Childhood and Family Support Division of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. Project partners, the University of Montana Western, Canvas Early Learning Center and the Early Childhood Coalition of Beaverhead County, along with thirty-one other childcare providers across the state were chosen to develop and implement innovative community, area, region and/or business-based strategies to expand childcare availability for Montana families. Fundamentally, the grant supports working families, employers, and the local economy with expanded capacity to serve 16 infants and toddlers, 34 children ages 2-5, and offer after-school care.

“We are very excited for the expanded opportunities that the grant will provide that will allow us to focus even more on the needs of our community. By relocating to the University of Montana Western, the campus will naturally become part of the children’s educational surroundings, allowing them to explore and learn from the world around them, inspire curiosity, and foster a love for lifelong learning,” said Aaron Cashmore, Canvas Early Learning Center Director. “As Canvas develops its new and improved center, we will concentrate on identifying and addressing local needs which could include offering programming outside of standard workday hours, implementing a sliding tuition scale, and other opportunities to reduce the expense of childcare.”

The new Canvas classroom location on the UMW campus will be in the PIMA Medical Institute building on East Poindexter Street next to Sparky’s Garage. The building will house two learning spaces for children – one for ages 2-3, and the other for ages 4-5. Canvas’s current space at 512 ½ N. Washington Street will become the infant and toddler program location with a multi-age classroom for older siblings. The N. Washington location will be used until the infant-toddler classroom is ready for occupancy on Montana Western’s campus in September 2024.

The partnership will provide exciting collaboration opportunities for the Early Childhood Education program at Montana Western. UMW students will be able to enhance their skillsets through real-world teaching experiences at the Center. As a trusted mentor, Canvas will offer guidance and demonstrate best practices in working with young children, providing additional opportunities for students to actively engage in their field of study.

Canvas ELC would like to invite all interested volunteers to join in the Dillon Community Day of Service on August 9, 2023. From 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., volunteers are needed to help move and set up the new Canvas classrooms at Montana Western. To learn more and register, visit

For more information about available programs, enrollment fees, and to request registration for your children for the fall, please visit, email, or call 406-988-0008.

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