The Inclusion Learning Center / Founders: Gaukue Xiong, Melissa Bertao
The Inclusion Learning Center is an inclusive daycare and early childhood education program for children with and without disabilities. The idea for the program came from the founders, Gaukue Xiong, Melissa Bertao, and Monica Peterson’s work in early childhood education for a public school district. They would hear from parents about how hard it was to find childcare for their children with disabilities. This would cause most of these parents to quit their jobs or make other sacrifices to provide care and educational opportunities for their children. Xiong, Bertao, and Peterson said, “We have picked up the phone and personally dialed daycare programs only to be told they do not accept children who are “that disabled” or “maybe if they’re speech delayed but not if they have Downs Syndrome.” Xiong, Bertao, and Peterson plan to create an early education program that is fully inclusive and open to children with and without disabilities. “We want to be a model preschool program that rejects these notions and beliefs and delivers on the philosophy that all children, no matter their disability, deserve a quality early education.” Xiong, Bertao, and Peterson said.
The Inclusion Learning Center received $12,000 in funding, the largest award ever given in Spark Tank history! Xiong, Bertao, and Peterson plan to use some of the money to build a sensory gym and to buy playground equipment that is “developmentally appropriate and accessible for kids with physical disabilities.” “We genuinely feel so honored to be winners of the 2023 Spark Tank Award. We couldn’t be more grateful to the Spark Tank judges for investing in us! Their faith in our social enterprise is a huge validation of our work and the social impact we can make.”, Xiong, Bertao, and Peterson said.