Cherrelle L. Hurt, 38 

Owner and Director of As We Grow Childcare & Learning Center

click to enlarge ASH DANIEL

Cherrelle Hurt knows how difficult it is to make it as a single mom. That’s why she’s so attuned to helping families in need of reliable child care. She grew up in the housing projects of Richmond and became a mother at age 17.

“My passion started by trying to break the cycle with my daughter,” she says. “Teaching her to be a young lady full of self-esteem and drive.”

Hurt worked for two decades at Children’s Health Involving Parents under her mentor, Barbara W. Fleming. She then started her own childcare center from her home in 2004, becoming licensed a year later.

Her spacious new company, As We Grow Childcare & Learning Center, offers affordable and quality care with such advantages as flexible hours: It’s open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. She fills a crucial niche for working parents. “We saw a definite need,” she says, “especially now in a recession, with people doing two or three part-time jobs.”

Her company takes care of 85 children with a range of services. In the summer, she focuses on helping kids learn math and science — weaknesses for many trying to pass the Standards of Learning tests.

She’s been invited to see President Obama twice to discuss small-business support. “That was a favor from God,” she says. “I think they kept hearing my name from nonprofits and other leaders because of the outreach we do.”

She was there for the signing of the Small Business Jobs Act and was reminded of her grandfather, a mechanic who instilled a spirit of giving within her. “I came back really affirmed that the president gave my business a nod,” she says. “My grandfather would’ve been so proud.”

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