About Us


Malaika Early Learning Center works collaboratively with families to establish a strong academic, social and emotional foundation in the lives of Milwaukee’s economically disadvantaged children, all of whom deserve opportunities for excellence in education regardless of their socio-economic situations or family structure.


Located on 1st Street and Auer Avenue in the northeast Milwaukee neighborhood of Harambee, Malaika is licensed by Wisconsin Department of Children and Families to serve 70 children at a time between the ages of 6 weeks and 12 years. The enrollment in the K4-3rd grade programs averages about 95 children. On an average day, over 140 children receive services at Malaika. Our children come from neighborhoods across the city of Milwaukee.


Intuitively, people understand that learning can’t wait until children enter school in the first grade. Now, scientists are confirming this intuition by documenting the importance of learning experiences that happen in the first weeks, months and years of life. High quality, early learning experiences nurture a child’s developing brain and provide a strong foundation for all future learning, behavior and health.

The low-income children that Malaika serves are confronted with a daunting set of challenges that threaten to undermine their ability to succeed academically and become productive citizens later in life.

Numerous studies demonstrate that it’s far better – and more cost-effective – to help a child develop critical life skills early, rather than intervene later after that child has experienced social, academic, or other problem behaviors.

Lower criminal arrest rates, higher school graduation rates, and higher lifetime earnings are but a few of the positive outcomes from quality early childhood programs like Malaika’s. Such programs return to society between $4-$8 for every dollar invested, and that’s just in the first 25 years of the child’s life.

Enrollment in Malaika Early Learning Center is a life-transforming experience for our children, placing them on a path toward a productive and fulfilling life. We believe this is one of the most important steps in reversing the cycle of poverty in Milwaukee’s central city.



Malaika’s staff is led by executive director Tamara Johnson, who holds a master’s degree in Early Childhood Administration and a bachelor’s degree in Human Services and has over 15 years experience in program planning, development and implementation. Ms. Johnson has held leadership positions with respected organizations including COA Youth and Family Centers, Professional Services Group, and Milwaukee Public Schools. Ms. Johnson is a champion of quality early childhood education for low-income children.

All Malaika staff are licensed and certified, every school classroom is led by a DPI-licensed teacher, and teachers in the childcare classrooms have at least an associate degree in early childhood education. 

The entire staff is attentive, gentle and caring, but also exerts the discipline required to maintain an orderly and effective learning environment.

In an industry where 35-40% staff turnover is the norm, Malaika’s staff is dedicated. On average we retain 90% of our staff annually; which supports continuity of care for children. Many of the staff have been part of the Malaika Family for 3+ years.

125 West Auer Avenue Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53212 | 414-562-4997
Site Designed by Ascedia, Inc.