In tonight’s State of the Union, President Barack Obama demonstrated his administration’s commitment to helping families achieve economic security, while increasing investments and opportunities for high quality education for all Americans, efforts that will help children and families reach their full potential now and in our nation’s future.
President Obama said he’s seeking across-the-board reform of America’s job training programs to, “train Americans with the skills employers need, and match them to good jobs that need to be filled right now. That means more on-the-job training, and more apprenticeships that set a young worker on an upward trajectory for life.”
The president’s vision for connecting the dots between education and employment, transforming high schools to be STEM-ready and expanding partnerships between business, industry and community colleges to prepare youth to enter the workforce with much needed skills is right on target.
These proposed investments at all levels of the education continuum are made even stronger when connected with efforts that build the economic stability of families. The foundation is pleased with the president’s call for increasing the minimum wage, expanding apprenticeships and workforce skills development and expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), because if families achieve greater access onto and up the ladder of economic and social mobility, they can gain opportunities that will help both themselves and their children succeed in school, work and life. By helping two generations simultaneously (children and their parents), we can break the cycle of poverty and create a brighter future for children.
American families need every available resource to help them achieve economic stability by building skills for better-paying and more secure jobs. President Obama’s discussions on college affordability, job-driven training efforts at community colleges and launching retirement investments for all workers are welcome news. Too many families are out of work or only able to take jobs that barely get them by month to month. Building the assets of families now can create economic security for generations to come.
The president also reaffirmed his commitment to high-quality early childhood education for all students, saying, “Research shows that one of the best investments we can make in a child’s life is high-quality early education.”
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) unequivocally supports stronger investments in early childhood education at the local, state and national levels. We know that these investments work – especially for children from birth to age 8 who face barriers based on race or income. Smart, targeted investments in early childhood education are proven to fight poverty by delivering strong educational, social and economic outcomes not just for children, but for their families and communities where they live. We are thrilled that the president recognizes the value in such investments that will give every child a fair chance at success in school and life and save communities money in the long run by increasing independence and self-sufficiency.
The president also touched on the specific need to support young males of color and set them on the path to success. WKKF has pledged to work nationally with a number of other leading foundations on a new initiative that the president said will “help more young men of color facing tough odds stay on track and reach their full potential.” The foundation is already working with 25 community organizations in its priority place Mississippi to change the conditions that young males of color in that state face, by creating an environment and a comprehensive network of support from birth into adulthood that enables racial healing and eliminates barriers to opportunity.
Tonight, we heard strategies for moving our country forward. We hope these efforts will build on what’s currently working in communities across the country and ensure that our youngest Americans and their families can learn and thrive economically together.
About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer Will Keith Kellogg is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to help break the cycle of poverty by removing barriers based on race or income that hold back children, so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.
The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Mich., and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti.