In September 2017, two category 5 hurricanes wreaked havoc on the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Electricity wasn’t fully restored until February 2018, and food and fresh drinking water were scarce. The islands ran out of gasoline, and communities were left to deal with the stress of surviving Hurricanes Irma and Maria.


Many childcare facilities were severely damaged, along with the play and educational materials for the children. Some programs were closed for months before repairs could begin and others had to search for places to relocate to permanently. After nearly two years, many of these childcare facilities are operating with a drastic reduction of resources and they lack books, electronics, toys, naptime materials, art supplies, furniture, and playground equipment.

Through our recovery work, the Institute for Childhood Preparedness has witnessed the struggles that continue to challenge early childhood programs in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. We have also seen a great desire by many on the mainland to assist and lend a helping hand to those in need. This is how the Sea to Shining Sea Program was born.


The goal of the Sea to Shining Sea Program is to develop mutually beneficial relationships between early child care providers in the United States Virgin Islands (St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John), Puerto Rico and the United States mainland that will result in cultural exchange, capacity building and information sharing. Our goal is to leverage Sea to Shining Sea to increase preparedness and resiliency – while building lifelong connections and friendships.

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Learn about each other’s cultures and way of life through a pen pal exchange, pictures and artwork, and sharing cultural practices (books, music, customs, holidays).

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Provide support by donating books, toys, materials, resources, care packages, and gently used items.



Establish relationships to share best practices for child care operators to enhance the programs for the children.

Program Benefits


Your child care facility will help early childhood programs with the resources that they desperately need but don’t have access to due to the geographic isolation of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

Cultural Exchange

Children from Territories and the Mainland will learn about different cultural traditions and customs through pen pal letters, videos, and pictures.

Professional Network

Grow your professional network by developing relationships with other early childhood professionals outside your immediate geographic area. Exchange ideas, leading practices and share successes and struggles.


This program will create long-lasting relationships, and it will be beneficial in the event of a disaster. We will create a network to share best practices in preparedness, response, and recovery planning across the United States and Territories. This relationship will also focus on mental health recovery post-hurricanes.


Fill out an expression of interest form


Once a program has applied, you will be matched to a program in USVI or Puerto Rico. The Institute will work to find the best match based on the children’s ages, size, and needs.


The Institute will assist in developing a partnership plan that will outline the collaboration and goals for the year. Each plan will be different based on the needs and capacity of the centers.


The programs will then implement their partnership plan, the Institute will provide technical assistance and facilitate shipping and deliveries, as needed.


The Institute will assist in sharing the success of the partnership via social media, emails, and other media platforms to raise awareness about the benefits of the Sea to Shining Sea Program.

How It Works


Fill out an Expression of Interest Form for the Sea to Shining Sea Program Today.

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