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Archive for the ‘Philanthropy’ Category

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Low salaries are driving early educators out of their jobs, eroding efforts to offer high-quality programs to young children.

This challenge was featured in a front page news story in Sunday’s Worcester Telegram and Gazette, which reports:

“Losing needed staff is never a good thing. But for early childhood education centers these days, it can be especially demoralizing, said Kim Davenport, who recalled the case of one aspiring teacher who recently passed up a full-time classroom job for a higher-paying gig – at Dick’s Sporting Goods.

“‘We’re losing the talent we really need in these programs,’ said Ms. Davenport, managing director of a multiagency initiative underway in Worcester aimed at expanding the city’s preschool options.”

And while early educators are getting advanced degrees that help them become even better teachers, these degrees aren’t leading to salary increases. (more…)

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“What does it mean to be ready for kindergarten? To me it’s the basics of academics, getting ready for reading and math, but it’s also social, learning how to be around different kinds of people, and how to deal with conflict. Playing with other kids. Academics and social skills are equally important—that helps not just in school but in life. And those are the skills that our daughter learned in pre-K.”

“I’ve worked as a teacher’s aide before, helping out in the [pre-K] classroom, so I’ve seen what a teacher goes through and how important a good teacher is. It’s hard work. These are the people who are molding and shaping your kid—everything they do matters. Our teachers were awesome. They did trainings, so they were always getting better. They kept us involved and told us everything we wanted to know without having to be asked, and they met us at flexible times because most of the parents work. It felt like a community. Our teachers made every family feel special.”

“Ready for Kindergarten,” by Allegra Myers, posted on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Impatient Optimists website, August 19, 2016

 

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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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