CEO, Children’s Playhouse Early Learning Center
CEO, Innovative Educational Consulting Services
A dedicated advocate for children, Damaris Alvarado-Rodriguez launched the non-profit organization Latinos Educando Juntos (LEJ), to support small business owners, especially childcare providers, in the LatinX/Hispanic Community. She has been recognized as a leader in the field of early childhood education and in the world of business. In 2022, she was recognized with the Al Dia Women of Merit Award in the Entrepreneurial Category, shortly after being the cover story in Al Dia newspaper where she was called “The Queen of Children’s Playhouse.” The title resounded with her because she humbly credits the game of chess for her ability to strategize and plan ahead in all walks of life. Also, in 2022, Damaris was thrilled to receive the Bronze Medal for Pennsylvania’s Equity in Early Childhood Education Champion award.
Rodriguez is the owner of two Children’s Playhouse Early Learning Centers based in South Philadelphia. In addition to LEJ, in 2022 she founded Innovative Education Consulting Services, providing advisory support for the start-up of new businesses and enhancement of existing businesses, also focusing on the LatinX/Hispanic community.
Damaris Alvarado-Rodriguez has been honored to serve in many capacities as an expert in the field of early childhood – as a speaker, serving on several boards, advisory groups and on various panels talking to Senators and State Representatives. She spoke at the HDPC Hearing on People’s Budget Education on March 1, 2021, and her testimony was so touching, several people were moved to tears. Always involved in early childhood, Damaris has worked on several initiatives including SEPEEC Advocacy Committee, Pennsylvania Child Care Association Board Member (PACCA), PHLprek SPARK Provider Council, Children’s First Racial Equity Providers group, and SEPEEC’s Latinos Educando Junto Latin X Provider group.
Adding to her credentials, Damaris has had much success with funders. On three different occasions Children’s Playhouse has been granted The Fund for Quality (FFQ), a partnership between Reinvestment Fund and Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC), supported by funding from the William Penn Foundation, and Vanguard Strong Start for Kids Program. Through the provision of business planning support and facilities-related financing, Fund for Quality supports high quality early care and education providers with expanding their services to reach more low-income families.
Being a business owner has come naturally to Damaris. Born and partially raised in Puerto Rico, her family moved to New York when she was a teen. At the young age of 22, she opened her first business, a restaurant in Brooklyn. By 28, she opened a collections and billing agency for insurance and physician companies. After she moved to Philadelphia in 2003, she was looking for new avenues, and opened her first family childcare center that same year. In 2005, she owned and operated a group center in a building she acquired and expanded capacity in the same building to provide more expansion slots to families on her wait list, in a STAR 4 Center. Seven years later, in 2014, Damaris created a strategic expansion plan to expand her early childcare high-quality programs in areas where it was most needed and moved into 2501 S. Marshall Street with the Whitman Center. In 2017, she added another center at 1426 W. Passyunk Avenue called Newbold.
With so much growth in her businesses, it was time to study further and in 2021, she graduated from the 10K Goldman Sacks Entrepreneurship Program. With her skills and history, Damaris Alvarado-Rodriguez is the ideal person to present LEJ and create programs and provide resources throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.