Boston Thrive in Five

What are the target goals of the initiative?

In response to a need for a comprehensive, common school readiness measure, Thrive in Five was initiated. The project created a holistic, citywide measure of school readiness, which supplements the strictly academic Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) scores that are currently used, and facilitate aligned data sharing.

Who are the partners?

Launched in 2008 by the City of Boston and the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, Thrive in Five is a 10-year initiative that aligns the efforts of families, educators, health care and human service providers, the private sector, and city departments - working in collaboration with state agencies - to ensure that all children will be ready for sustained school success.

What is the strategy behind the initiative?

Collaborative planning and accountability in which Thrive in Five serves as the coordinator and convener of the city's early childhood programming, knitting together four different components - ready schools, a ready city, ready systems, and ready families - essential to promoting school readiness for all of Boston's children.

Access to high-quality early education in a variety of settings,including universal Pre-K (called K1) operated by Boston Public Schools (BPS) and a robust system of high-quality, community-based care available for the majority of preschool aged children. Boston also boasts a high rate of accreditation, with a growing number of center-based, Head Start, and public Pre-K programs holding National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and other national accreditations.

Qualified teachers for young children through targeted professional development: Thrive in Five and its partners are implementing an ambitious plan to provide professional development to every early learning caregiver in the city and achieve universal accreditation of all programs, including those that are family-based, center-based or operated by BPS. They are starting with a focus on providing individualized professional development plans and access to career coaches to early childhood providers within the city's "Circle of Promise," where needs are the greatest.

Parent engagement in both early childhood and elementary school settings:  Through Countdown to Kindergarten's Read Talk Play campaign and Play to Learn groups, the Boston Children Thrive in Five community engagement initiative, and BPS's Parent University and parent engagement coordinators, Boston is equipping parents to be their child's first teacher and sustaining that involvement into the school years.

Countdown to Kindergarten to ensure smooth transitions:Countdown to Kindergarten (CtK) provides information and support to parents and children to promote a smooth transition from early childhood to elementary school. CtK helps parents navigate the school selection and enrollment process, promotes school readiness activities and events, works with providers and schools to ensure that children and families know what to expect when they start kindergarten, and engages the entire community in visible, family-friendly events that promote the transition to school.

How is the initiative funded?

The city invests $22 million per year in the preschool (K1) program, which is supplemented by federal grants and private foundations. Using mostly private funding, Boston Public Schools spends approximately $5,000 per classroom for accreditation. This covers the cost of classroom materials and environmental needs, plus funding for a mentor to visit schools twice per year to work with administrators and educators.

What is the impact of the initiative so far?

Since its inception in 2008, Thrive in Five has had significant impacts in a variety of sectors. During the last two years for which data is available (2013-14), Thrive in Five has generated $23 million in new resources for Boston's early childhood community, more than 95 percent of which has been granted to local organizations to improve and expand services for families. Based on an external evaluation, there is also evidence that Boston parents feel less isolated, are increasingly aware of community resources, and are becoming more informed and engaged in their children's healthy development.

NLC Contact

Tonja Rucker
Program Director: Early Childhood Success

Last updated July 2015