Early Learning Nation


City leaders are well positioned to champion the needs of children and families and create communities that help all children achieve their full potential. In 2015, NLC partnered with the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) to launch City Leadership for Building an Early Learning Nation (ELN) to support local officials in developing and strengthening early childhood systems to ensure that young children in our cities grow up safe, healthy and ready to learn. The ultimate goal is to build an Early Learning Nation of communities that prioritizes kids and families and promotes learning and development for early and life-long success.

NLC and CSSP are working with two networks of communities to foster continued learning and growth as they build early learning systems. NLC established a network of seven cities in July 2015 as a part of the initiative, and CSSP convened ten communities in 2014 in Early Childhood-LINC (Learning and Innovation Network for Communities).

NLC provides each city in the network with individual assistance to improve early learning systems including information about the latest research and promising practices; assistance with developing and implementing local plans; and connections to national experts and resources.

In 2016, NLC and CSSP developed a framework called Early Learning Communities: Building Blocks for Success, which outlines a vision of communities where all children learn and thrive. Using the Building Blocks as a foundation, CSSP and NLC have developed an Early Learning Community Action Guide that will help communities take action to become Early Learning Communities. NLC and CSSP have tapped their networks of communities as living laboratories to determine what has worked and what hasn’t, identify where they found traction, and provide insights into the diversity of strategies and approaches that are possible for different communities looking to become Early Learning Communities.

Currently, the communities are piloting the Early Learning Community Action Guide to test the proposed actions and how communities can use the guide. Following the pilot phase, NLC and CSSP will refine the guide based on community recommendation and then release it to the public so other communities can join the Early Learning Nation.

This project will build on the lessons communities have learned over decades of work improving outcomes for young children. Together, we will share their results and generate recommendations for other communities and their leaders so that community by community, we will become an Early Learning Nation.

This project is made possible by generous support from the Bezos Family Foundation, which is working to make the U.S. an Early Learning Nation.