Rainbow Fleet is an Oklahoma City based nonprofit organization as defined by 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service codes as a tax-exempt public charity. Beginning in September 1972, Rainbow Fleet grew out of one Montessori teacher’s belief that the very best early childhood teaching methods could literally be exported by providing child care teachers and professionals with resources and materials that would support appropriate environments for young children. This concept, in conjunction with the modeling and mentoring from early childhood specialists, provided a component of support for the teachers and caregivers. Rainbow Fleet’s founder, Dr. Margaret Loeffler, took the lead in establishing this initiative. She was Director of the Primary Division at Casady School, which has a strong Montessori based preschool program. Dr. Loeffler also headed the Montessori teacher training program at Oklahoma City University where many achievements and accomplishments on behalf of children and environments were attained.
The early beginnings were built around her idea to fill a mobile education unit with learning materials, toys, art projects, and books. The key to quality service would be to staff the mobile libraries with trained early childhood professionals. By taking the resources directly into child care and early education programs, they could reach large numbers of children, families and caregivers. These early efforts were a direct result of the collaboration of several key partners and stakeholders which included Casady School, Oklahoma City University, Arts Council of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma State Department of Human Services, Metropolitan Library System, and the Junior League of Oklahoma City.
The methodology has changed with time. The programs and projects have had to adapt based on needs assessments and priorities. Rainbow Fleet expanded the mobile toy lending library concept and developed a Child Care Resource Center which allows for greater access to more resources and materials. The Resource Center is supported by the programs of Child Care Resource and Referral, Child Care Training and Technical Assistance, a Child Care Health Consultant, an Infant Toddler Consultant, and the Child Care Food Program. The existence of these programs serve as a testament to our commitment to the underlying mission of Rainbow Fleet, which remains as strong today as it did 40 years ago.