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Archive for the ‘Philanthropy’ Category

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Photo: Pavel Danilyuk from Pexels

What happens when a foster parent learns about an early learning center that’s willing to try a new approach?

Progress.

That’s the story Kate Audette tells about a child placed in her care by the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF), the state’s child welfare agency.

It was 2020, in the middle of the pandemic and after George Floyd was murdered, when Audette, who has been a licensed foster care provider since 2017, accepted the placement of an infant whom we’ll call Jordan to protect the child’s privacy. 

Audette was working from home at the time and planned to keep the baby home “until it felt safe for them to go to school.”

But she did take the baby to a neighborhood rally in support of George Floyd. The event was organized by Dorchester People for Peace. It was outside. Everyone wore masks. It felt safe.

It also turned out to be life changing.

(more…)

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Photo: RODNAE Productions from Pexels

During the surge of Omicron infections, early education and care providers were once again feeling the crushing weight of the pandemic. Children were getting sick, and so were providers. Staffing shortages were chronic.

Stories of these struggles reached the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, where the staff came up with a plan that could be called rapid-response philanthropy.

“We talked about what we could do to support educators and staff at our partner agencies and the local child care industry in general,” Xavier Andrews, the United Way’s communications director, says. “We came up with the ideas of soliciting corporate support.”

“In January,” a press release adds, “United Way launched the Childcare Appreciation Fund to show appreciation for staff at area childcare centers.”

“To boost morale and cultivate needed equipment, United Way issued a call to action to corporate partners to ‘adopt’ a childcare center either with a financial gift or a gift of testing and protective supplies.”

The responses:

(more…)

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Yesterday, a dozen early educators and leaders submitted testimony at a State House hearing of the Special Legislative Early Education and Care Economic Review Commission.

And there’s still time to email more testimony to the commission. To have the most impact submit your testimony by this Thursday.

The commission, as Senator Jason Lewis (D-Winchester), a commission co-chair, explains on his website, “is tasked with investigating accessibility, affordability, and other concerns surrounding early education and childcare in the Commonwealth, and making recommendations to the state legislature for policy and funding solutions.”

Lewis adds:

“With a growing consensus among the public, the business community and policymakers that high-quality, affordable, accessible early education and childcare are indispensable, this commission has a unique opportunity to lay out a roadmap for bold, transformative policy action.”

Lewis is co-chairing the commission with Representative Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley).

Among those who submitted testimony to the committee is Jessica Seney, vice president of the board at Charlestown Nursery School in Boston, who said in part: (more…)

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Source: Eastern Bank Instagram page

 

In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, early education and care programs are getting crucial philanthropic support.

This includes $5 million in grant funding from Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Eastern Bank.

The grants will help “organizations focused on the most vulnerable populations,” including families with young children, emergency child care centers, family child care centers, and child care professionals.

“It takes a community of public and private partners working together to stave off the devastating and long-lasting impacts of this disease, and this philanthropic investment is intended to make a meaningful contribution to this effort,” Bob Rivers, the chair and CEO of Eastern Bank says in a press release.

Nancy Huntington Stager, president and CEO of Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation, adds in the release, “Evidence of the impact of this virus outbreak on our neighbors, families, and small businesses is everywhere. And we also see the resiliency, sheer will, and hope of people across our region as they band together to help one another. The need for assistance continues to grow, and we will continue to do whatever we can to give back as well as encourage those who are able to do so to join us.” (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

Local philanthropy “has an essential role to play.”

That’s the conclusion of an article about early education and care and the coronavirus pandemic.

“My biggest fear now,’ Janet Dotolo, of Melrose Day Care Center and Preschool in Melrose, Mass., says in the article, “is that I won’t be able to reopen when it is safe to do so, because my staff won’t come back.”

The article, which was published by the Bridgespan Group — a nonprofit organization that helps organizations and philanthropists “achieve breakthrough results” — explains:

“The United States has about 129,000 child care centers (a mix of nonprofit, for-profit, and faith-based) and 115,000 licensed home-based providers, who fill a critical need for families not well-served by centers.”

Having a functioning child care system is “of course, a vital resource for the healthy development of the 15 million children under age 6 with working parents.”

But the pandemic has created economic hardships that could force many programs to close permanently, which threatens communities’ abilities “to educate young children and restart their economies.” (more…)

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Children in five cities are going to be exposed to a lot more words.

That’s because Bloomberg Philanthropies has awarded these cities — Birmingham, Ala., Detroit, Mich., Hartford, Conn., Louisville, Ky., and Virginia Beach, Va. — a combined $12 million over three years to replicate Providence Talks.

Providence Talks – “the first-ever Grand Prize Winner of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge,” according to a Bloomberg press release – is a language-rich early education initiative that equips children with recording devices that track the words children hear and use each day.

The initiative has had “promising results, helping thousands of young children increase their language development. Today, we’re glad to help five new cities adapt the program and work to achieve similar progress,” Michael Bloomberg, the founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies and the 108th Mayor of New York City, says in the press release. (more…)

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“I am all butterflies. Every part of my body is shaking,” Jean Fahey said when she found out she had won the Early Childhood Book Challenge sponsored by OpenIDEO and the Philadelphia-based William Penn Foundation.

OpenIDEO “is part of IDEO, a global design and innovation consultancy” that encourages people to tackle a wide range of social problems.

The Early Childhood Book Challenge asked for creative manuscripts that would “inspire children and their caregivers to read together.”

Specifically, the manuscripts had to:

• “Excite and educate caregivers about the opportunities and importance of reading, singing or talking together”

• support early language development by engaging “young children in their earliest years,” and

• “Reflect the lived experience of families living in urban contexts in the U.S., in communities like Philadelphia”

In response, people from five continents submitted more than 500 manuscripts. (more…)

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Boston Mayor Marty Walsh confers with a future 4-year-old. (Mayor’s Office Photo by John Wilcox)

 

Earlier this month, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh promised to invest $15 million in expanding the city’s preschool programs.

This week, a Boston Globe editorial – “Boston’s path to universal preschool offers lessons for other cities” — weighs in, pointing to Boston’s pre-K strengths.

Among the strategies that other cities could borrow from Boston:

• expanding preschool through a mixed delivery system, “a combination of public school classrooms and community-based centers with funding from the city, state, federal government, and even foundations,” as well as

• increasing starting teacher salaries from $35,000 to $53,000 to lower teachers’ attrition rates

Statewide, the need for more preschool spots is considerable, the Globe says, citing some of our data:

“Only about a quarter of preschool age children in Massachusetts have publicly financed early education and care, according to advocacy group Strategies for Children.”

Boston’s investment is particularly important now because federal Preschool Expansion Grants are ending, and at the state level, the House Ways and Means Committee’s proposed budget does not include funding for Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative — although a budget amendment would include $15 million for the partnership.

Please read the editorial to learn more — and be sure to add your comments!

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Boston Mayor Marty Walsh meets with a young learner. Source: City of Boston Mayor’s Office’s Flickr page.

 

Boston has a long history of preschool progress. Starting under the administration of former Mayor Thomas Menino and continuing with Mayor Marty Walsh’s team, city officials have invested in quality, access, and innovation. Now, this work is featured in a new report — “A Focus on Teaching and Learning in Pre-K through 2nd Grade: Lessons from Boston” — from the think tank New America.

New America praises Boston for having a clear and lasting vision for expanding preschool, rather than “a series of priorities that shift every few years based on changes in district leadership.”

Thanks to a dynamic, public-private partnership, funding for this work came from the city and from funders like the Barr Foundation. (more…)

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Photo: Amy O’Leary for Strategies for Children

 

On Monday, civic partners gathered in the city of Springfield and broke ground on what will be a $14 million Educare Center, a school that will open next year and provide “a full-day and full-year program for up to 141 children from birth to age five each year,” MassLive.com reports.

As we’ve blogged, Springfield’s educators and philanthropists have called this Educare project a “dream come true,” one that promises to provide the city’s children with increased access to a high-quality early education program.

Educare “began in Chicago in 2000,” public radio station WAMC reports. It’s a research-based model that has four core features: “data utilization, embedded professional development, high-quality teaching practices, and intensive family engagement,” according to Educare’s website.

“Among the innovations at Educare,” WAMC adds, “is the placement of teachers (more…)

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