WASHINGTON—The National League of Cities (NLC) is launching the Municipal Leadership to Promote Educational Alignment for Young Children initiative as part of a national effort to increase the likelihood that children will achieve educational success by the end of 3rd grade. City officials are working on alignment efforts on behalf of young children from birth to age eight that go well beyond the classroom to include strengthening connections within their communities and linking families to a broad range of supports and opportunities that help them thrive.
The project is funded by grants from W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Six cities have been chosen to participate in this project; they are Austin, Texas; Fort Worth, Texas; Hartford, Conn.; Longmont, Colo.; Richmond, Va.; and Rochester, N.Y.
City experiences show that a high-quality, well-aligned educational system for young children bridges the divide between early childhood programs and K-12 schools. This improves outcomes for children, engages and supports families, strengthens the local workforce and economy, and enhances their cities’ quality of life.
“We have had great success in my city and region developing family resource centers – such as the Care1st Avondale Resource and Housing Center – where parents are provided with tools and information they need to support children’s early learning and healthy development,” said NLC President Marie Lopez Rogers, mayor of Avondale, Ariz. “The Institute’s project will identify and lift up a wide range of local innovations to help young children, and in the process enable more cities to join with their school and community partners so that all children enter school ready to learn and achieve their fullest potential.”
Based on more than a decade of work in the fields of early childhood development and education, NLC will provide cities with customized assistance, access to best practices and national experts, and opportunities for peer learning. As cities develop or enhance a plan for educational alignment and work with stakeholders from across the community, emphasis will be placed on cross-system collaboration among city agencies, school districts and Pre-K organizations.
NLC will also host summits in four states to facilitate intergovernmental partnerships on early learning among city, state and federal officials. The states will be chosen in 2014.
The statewide mayoral summits will be designed to help local and state leaders learn about each other’s perspectives, initiatives and policies. The summits will also lay the groundwork for future collaborations to inform state and national policy and educate officials engaged in funding decisions.
The National League of Cities is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans. The Institute for Youth, Education, and Families, a special entity within the National League of Cities, helps municipal leaders take action on behalf of the children, youth, and families in their communities.
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.