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W.K. Kellogg Foundation statement on President Obama’s renewed commitment to early childhood education in annual State of the Union address

Contact: Wade Nelson
(269) 269-969-2166

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. – The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) commends President Obama on his expressed commitment to early childhood education during his annual State of the Union Address. WKKF believes this is an important and essential first step in ensuring that all children have a fair chance at success in school and life.

In the president’s State of the Union address, he said, “Study after study shows that the sooner a child begins learning, the better he or she does down the road. But today, fewer than 3 in 10 four year-olds are enrolled in a high-quality preschool program. Most middle-class parents can’t afford a few hundred bucks a week for private preschool. And for poor kids who need help the most, this lack of access to preschool education can shadow them for the rest of their lives.”

He continued, “Tonight, I propose working with states to make high-quality preschool available to every single child in America. Every dollar we invest in high-quality early education can save more than seven dollars later on – by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime. In states that make it a priority to educate our youngest children, like Georgia or Oklahoma, studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, and form more stable families of their own. We know this works. So let’s do what works, and make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind. Let’s give our kids that chance.”
“We are pleased that the Obama administration understands the importance of investing in our nation’s youngest and most vulnerable children,” said Carla D. Thompson, vice president for program strategy at WKKF. “By expanding funding to include the vital early years, we are better equipped to break the persistent cycle of poverty and help families reach their full potential.”

The foundation believes that supporting vulnerable children prenatal through age eight is critically important to creating the conditions that prepare children for long-term success and independence. Current programs such as Early Head Start, Head Start and the Early Learning Challenge Fund have made an impact on the lives of children and families. The national, state and local policies such as those called for in President Obama’s remarks can only strengthen school-readiness.

“Increasing access to pre-K programs will help to remove the many barriers that hold back millions of our nation’s most vulnerable children as well as promote family economic security,” Thompson said. “The Kellogg foundation is committed to ensuring that across all communities, a child’s education starts at birth.”

WKKF partners with several community-based organizations across the country to ensure that all children have access to early and quality education. WKKF will work alongside its grantees in the upcoming months to help inform and respond to the various proposals federal, state and local policymakers put forward and better connect early learning and family support systems.

The foundation recognizes that success for vulnerable children depends on an intricate weave of elements and approaches. Program investments are made in the areas of Education & Learning; Food, Health & Well-Being; and Family Economic Security as these play interconnected roles in creating an environment in which vulnerable children are protected, nurtured, equipped and stimulated to succeed. WKKF also recognizes that the active pursuit of racial equity, including the eradication of structural racism as well as a strong commitment to community and civic engagement are essential to creating a social context in which all children can thrive.

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 create conditions for vulnerable 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.

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