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Archive for the ‘Philanthropy’ Category

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Image: Taly Foundation website

 

Launched last year in Framingham, Mass., the Taly Foundation is a new philanthropic effort that’s devoted to early education. The foundation got its start when two parents faced the stark reality of how much money matters, even in pre-K.

Up until Jill Dixon and her husband Phil began looking for preschool programs for their own children, they “had been blissfully unaware of the complexities associated with early childhood education and access to a quality preschool program,” Jill Dixon told us in a recent interview.

Once they began to look, the Dixons learned what for them were “new concepts” such as lottery systems and lack of slots for children — the same scarcity that new crops of parents discover every year as they consider preschool options.

After the Dixons enrolled their son in a local, public preschool, “it dawned on us that it was so expensive that there may be a time when parents are unable to afford that for their children even though they may want to for their child.”

“So we asked the director, ‘is there ever a time when families can’t afford to put their children in preschool?’ And she said, ‘Oh yeah, honey, every year for the 28 years that I’ve been here.’  (more…)

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“At a time when cities across the country have long waiting lists for every seat in free, quality preschool programs, Detroit has a different problem: hundreds of unused seats.

“Of the 4,895 seats that the federal government funds for Head Start programs in Detroit, nearly 800 are empty because providers have struggled to fill and open classrooms.

“That means that in a city where 94,000 children live in poverty and where the need for licensed childcare reportedly exceeds availability by more than 23,000 kids, many children who could benefit from early education aren’t getting it.”

“But while Detroit’s problems are more severe than elsewhere, the city also has an unusual solution: a remarkable collaboration among local philanthropies to expand early childhood programs that has boosted the number of children enrolled by 20 percent in just the last year.”

From “Money’s not enough: The unconventional way Detroit is filling Head Start classrooms,” by Erin Einhorn, Chalkbeat Detroit, May 26, 2016

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Mayor Jim Kenney. Photo source: City of Philadelphia Flickr page

Mayor Jim Kenney. Photo source: City of Philadelphia Flickr page

In Philadelphia, the mayor and a local funder are teaming up to expand pre-K. And like other cities around the nation, Philadelphia isn’t waiting for state or federal leadership.

Drawing on a report from Philly.com, a local news site, Next City, a nonprofit that reports on urban policy, says, “Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney’s dream of universal pre-K got a $15 million boost this week in the form of a one-time grant by the William Penn Foundation… While campaigning last year, Kenney, who took office in January, promised to make citywide pre-K a cornerstone of his administration.”

Next City adds, “Only a third of the city’s 3- and 4-year-olds are enrolled in high-quality, publicly funded pre-kindergarten. A commission on the subject reported last month that such a program will cost about $60 million per year, and recommended that a mixture of public and private funding be used to foot the bill.”

Philly.com adds, “The announcement marks the first major philanthropic investment in pre-K since Mayor Kenney announced his goal to make such care accessible to all city 3- and 4-year-olds.”

“The grant is projected to create space for 1,500 preschoolers in quality centers by 2021. Kenney’s goal is 10,000 new quality seats in Philadelphia over the next five years.” (more…)

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Detroit Child Care from IFF CDFI on Vimeo.


 

The Kresge Foundation is investing a generous $20 million to improve early childhood outcomes in the city of Detroit.

The five-year initiative will focus on five areas, according to Kresge’s website:

  1. “Investments in new, comprehensive early childhood centers;
  2. Below-market loans to improve current early childhood development facilities and to improve maternal healthcare services;
  3. Grants to support neighborhood early childhood collaborations and early childhood practitioners;
  4. Investments that draw national early childhood experience and expertise to Detroit; and
  5. Formation of a leadership alliance co-supported with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation that will bring together stakeholders from across all sectors in Detroit to create a strategic investment and action framework for the city’s youngest children”

(more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

A recent blog post from NIEER (the National Institute for Early Education Research) takes an inspiring and wide reaching look at the past year.

“Looking back over 2015, it’s been a year packed with action around early childhood education at NIEER, in the states, and across the country,” NIEER’s Preschool Matters blog says.

The blog points first to a U.S. News and World Report opinion piece that provides a summary of the year, noting:

“The needs of our nation’s littlest learners have garnered increasing attention in 2015. Although early learning still takes a back seat to K-12 education and higher education in national policy debates, state and national politicians are incorporating calls for early childhood investments into their stump speeches, philanthropic funders are targeting resources to early learning and, according to a new First Five Years Fund poll, average Americans increasingly recognize the importance of early learning for children’s long-term success.”

(more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

J.B. Pritzker is best known as a Chicago-based venture capitalist and philanthropist. He has also donated millions of dollars to early education. But this fall, Pritzker is sporting a new job title: early education policy wonk.

Pritzker has co-authored a paper, with the nonprofit Bridgespan Group, called “Achieving Kindergarten Readiness for All Our Children: A Funder’s Guide to Early Childhood Development from Birth to Five.”

In the paper, Pritzker and his co-authors point to the vast unmet need for high-quality early education and care — and they argue that philanthropists can play a key role.

As a related fact sheet explains, “Remarkably, 1 in 4 American children come from low-income families and enter kindergarten not ready to learn.” And, “50% of all low-income children from birth to 5 are at risk of not being fully prepared for kindergarten.” (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

For all its fun, Summer is also a time when children might experience the “summer slide” of losing ground academically. This problem is particularly acute for children from low-income families, many of whom have been shown to lose two to three months in reading achievement during the summer.

But now cities across Massachusetts are creating opportunities for students to keep learning and growing through activities that are engaging, fun, and educational.

As we blogged last month, many cities kicked off this season by celebrating National Summer Learning Day, a day of advocacy promoted in part by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. This summertime work continues in Boston, Holyoke, New Bedford, Springfield, and other communities.

“Research shows that low-income children experience summer learning loss at a much higher rate than their middle-class peers, who typically benefit from enriching summer programs, learning experiences, and homes filled with books and reading,” according to the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. “Over the course of one summer vacation, this summer learning loss creates an approximate three-month achievement gap in reading skills between the two groups of children. By middle school, the cumulative effect adds up to a gap equal to two full years of achievement.” (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Understanding the importance of the birth-to-third-grade continuum, school districts are leading efforts to strengthen programming and create better alignment between preschool and grade school programs.

One example is California where some school districts are reaching beyond their K-12 responsibilities to “to meet the needs of the youngest low-income children who live within their district boundaries – infants and toddlers,” according to an Edsource article.

These efforts are happening against a backdrop of state support. Last month, Governor Jerry Brown signed a fiscal year 2016 budget that “includes over $300 million in increased investments and important policy developments for early care and education,” according to the nonprofit advocacy organization Early Edge California.

But there’s still a lot of work for to be done, and not enough funding to do it.  (more…)

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Mayor Michael A. Nutter. Photo Source: City of Philadelphia Flickr account.

Mayor Michael A. Nutter. Photo Source: City of Philadelphia Flickr account.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter has just released an exciting and sweeping plan to revitalize his city’s early learning programs. It’s a detailed effort that could also serve as a blueprint for other cities.

Called “A Running Start Philadelphia: For Every Child Birth to 5,” the plan is a path toward ensuring that all of the city’s children are ready to succeed in school.

“What happens — or doesn’t happen — from infancy to the time a child enters kindergarten can set the course for his or her whole life,” the plan says. “And what happens — or doesn’t happen — in the first five years of life for Philadelphia’s 110,000 children can set the course for the long-term future of our entire city.”

One daunting obstacle is poverty.

“Two years ago, the City unveiled Shared Prosperity Philadelphia, a comprehensive plan that brings together hundreds of individuals and organizations to address our city’s unacceptable poverty level,” the plan says, adding that early learning is “a critical component of the plan” to avoid “passing on the crippling legacy of poverty to a new generation…” (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Imagine a citywide approach to helping young children prepare for school.

That’s the city New Bedford is striving to be. The city’s public school system is working with local center-based preschool providers, as well as diverse stakeholders including the New Bedford Art Museum, the city’s housing authority, and the United Way of New Bedford to develop school readiness programs.

“We’ve never really had that alignment conversation,” Diane Sullivan said in a recent interview. Sullivan is the supervisor of Early Childhood Special Education for New Bedford Public Schools.

Sullivan helps lead the Birth through Third Grade Alignment Partnership effort, which has been underway in New Bedford since fall 2014. The work is funded by the Department of Early Education and Care, using federal Early Learning Challenge funds.

Taking what Sullivan calls a “good first step,” New Bedford has decided to focus on helping preschool-age children build strong social and emotional skills.  (more…)

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