Early Learning Network Expands to Include Sixteen Communities

Press Release
Press Release

WASHINGTON—Today, the National League of Cities (NLC) and the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) announced a new initiative designed to improve outcomes during the first five years of life for children in communities across the United States. Through the initiative, NLC and CSSP will work with 16 cities and counties that have demonstrated a strong commitment to ensuring young children's healthy development. NLC and CSSP will use examples from these communities to create best practices for early childhood development that all communities can draw from.

Support from the Bezos Family Foundation will allow NLC and CSSP to develop and expand a network of selected cities and counties doing exemplary work in early childhood development. Through this joint effort, a playbook will be published that highlights best practices for providing young children nurturing interactions with parents and caregivers, good nutrition and health care, safe neighborhoods and high-quality early education.

We hope to catalyze a shift in the way local communities approach early childhood care and education. By expanding the network of people and places committed to improving opportunities for young children, we will reach our shared goal of becoming an Early Learning Nation, community by community.

"We are thrilled to partner with the National League of Cities and the Center for the Study of Social Policy to lift up the best examples of what our nation's communities are doing for their youngest citizens," said Jackie Bezos, President and Co-founder of the Bezos Family Foundation. "This work builds on robust research that demonstrates the potential young children have during the first five years of life. Through this effort, we will take the science out of the lab and into the community, where organizations, systems and local leaders can make a collective investment in children and their families."

This initiative will allow NLC and CSSP to build upon high-impact work already underway, bringing together communities and organizations with shared goals and priorities to maximize coordination and collaboration across intersecting efforts. In addition to the nine CSSP-led Early Childhood-LINC communities (a partnership of organizations in Alameda County, Calif., Boston, Mass., Denver, Colo., Hartford, Conn., Kent County, Mich., Lamoille Valley, Vt., Orange County, Calif., Palm Beach County, Fla., and Ventura County, Calif.), NLC has selected seven cities to participate in their City Leadership for Building an Early Learning Nation initiative, including Dayton, Ohio, Jacksonville, Fla., Kansas City, Mo., Minneapolis, Minn., Pittsburgh, Pa., Portland, Maine and San Francisco, Calif.

"A strong early learning system contributes to an educated populace and a strong local workforce, both of which influence growth, economic development and the overall vibrancy of a city," said NLC President Ralph Becker, Mayor, Salt Lake City, Utah. "This initiative gives local leaders the opportunity to make meaningful connections with early education providers and community partners to ensure children are prepared to succeed not just in the early grades but in high school, college and beyond."

"The Early Childhood-LINC communities are already among the nation's innovators," said CSSP Director Frank Farrow. "They each have a track record of success. Now, they have come together to solve the toughest challenges and take the bold steps needed to improve outcomes for young children at a greater scale. With our colleagues at NLC and the cities they are convening, our aim is to build a movement of mayors and other local leaders committed to all children growing up healthy, safe, nurtured by strong families and ready for school."

About the National League of Cities
The National League of Cities (NLC) 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.

About the Center for the Study of Social Policy
The Center for the Study of Social Policy is a national organization recognized for its leadership in shaping policy, reforming public systems and building the capacity of communities. Our goal is to make sure children can learn, develop and thrive with the support of strong families, in safe and healthy communities.

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