BATTLE CREEK, Mich. – The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) applauds Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Vermont on winning federal funding in the latest Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge competition. WKKF is especially proud of priority place Michigan’s efforts to focus on developing an innovative approach to improving the quality of early learning so that more children and families can reach their full potential now and in the future.
The funding, announced by the departments of Education and Health and Human Services, will help these states make sure that more families have access to high-quality early childhood education, which will in turn increase the number of children ready for school and achieving early educational success from the time they are born through third grade and into adulthood.
In the foundation’s home state of Michigan, we are especially proud of the commitment by Gov. Rick Snyder, lawmakers, community organizations and advocates, parents, and business leaders to make sustainable improvements to the state’s early learning system to put more vulnerable children on the pathway to success. In recent years, Michigan has: established an Office of Great Start—Early Learning; marshaled a strong advocacy community that has rallied around this issue, including strong leadership from Michigan’s nonprofit, foundation and business communities; engaged the Legislature who just this past year championed the largest expansion of early learning funding in the country, and a proposed budget for this year that doubles that investment; progressed toward establishing a robust, quality rating system; and engaged 1,400 parents, service providers, policymakers, early childhood experts and advocates from across the state to create a collaborative and comprehensive plan for early learning and development across Michigan.
“These winners of the Early Learning Challenge have an incredible opportunity to increase access to and quality of early learning experiences so that all children in their states can get a better chance at success in school and life,” said Carla D. Thompson, vice president – program strategy at WKKF. “We’re excited to see how this funding can help everyone in early childhood development collaborate more effectively, including partnering with parents, so that all families have access to high-quality education.”
Many states’ efforts to strengthen early learning systems align with WKKF’s priorities in early childhood, including:
- Evaluating and improving high-quality programs and informing families about program quality, as well as measuring outcomes and progress;
- Promoting early learning and development outcomes and informing, engaging and supporting families so that they can partner with schools and communities to best help their children learn and achieve; and
- Building a great early childhood education workforce with leadership and professional development that gives educators the support and training they need to deliver high-quality early learning teaching for all students.
Although WKKF priority place Mississippi did not win, the foundation is also proud of state and education leaders who demonstrated their focus on better serving young children and their families throughout their educational experience, rather than treating early childhood as disconnected from K-12 education.
WKKF priority place New Mexico also received a supplemental award this summer from the 2013 Early Learning Challenge grant fund, enabling the state to improve and expand early learning programs.
The foundation is excited to see how all the winners implement their plans and encouraged at the ongoing interest in and evidence of early childhood education as a powerful way to support children and families.
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.