A Great Year for the Alliance and Our Partners

Dear Friends and Colleagues. 

What a ride.  For this Kansas Citian, 2014 will be remembered for the Royals improbable, yet fantastic, run up to the last out of the last inning of the last game of the World Series.  For all of us, it will be remembered for some of the most significant gains for vulnerable young children and families we have seen in nearly two decades. 

While we never claim credit, Alliance leadership, creating and supporting partnerships, curating technical assistance (TA), and grant dollars made great contributions:

  • We invested a range of resources in 24 states and 28 national TA organizations to support advocacy and state policy.
  • Our investments totaled a little over $6.5 million in grant dollars and leveraged an additional $5.8 million from local, state, and national funders to support early childhood advocacy and policy in states.
  • We awarded over $367,000 for Rapid Response (RR) to either seize an unexpected opportunity or defend against an immediate threat to early childhood programs, policies, funding.
  • States receiving Alliance supports won $940 million in new funds directed to early childhood for vulnerable children birth through age eight.

What We Do

Most of you know what we do, but others are newer to the Alliance.  We are a catalyst that brings together states, national experts, and funding partners who  share the goal of improving state policies for vulnerable young children starting at birth and continuing through age eight.  Ultimately, we want to see improved health, family, and learning outcomes. We do this by investing in advocacy, policymaker leadership, and research.  We support partnerships in and across states and national TA expert organizations, and connect them in ways that boost early childhood advocacy and policy in states.  Our Birth Thru Age Eight State Policy Framework lays out best bet policy choices in our three outcome areas.  We ask state advocates and leaders to determine the priorities they work on based on the political, social, and economic context of their state at a given point in time.  One of the things I love about the Alliance is that we have the luxury of being flexible and nimble through our Rapid Response noted above.  Last year, Alliance investments in advocacy and policy included: access to high quality child care, home visiting, pre-K, professional workforce development, transition from early learning into the early grades, and comprehensive data systems. 

View our Theory of Change here.

And see what our partners are working on here

Bridging Policy and Practice

In the new year the Alliance will continue to support Rhode Island KIDS COUNT with assist from Advocates for New Jersey’s Children to lead the State-Based Advocates for Early Learning, a group of 30 states who come together to provide a state voice in support of new proposed federal investment in early childhood.  They work closely with the First Five Years Fund (FFYF) and Strong Start Coalition.  In the last two years we made mini grants totaling over $300,000 in 10 states so they can work on communication and advocacy activities related to federal policy opportunities for vulnerable young children.  And some of our national TA Network partners used parts of their grants to devote time to this effort as well.

The Alliance history is grounded in providing advocacy and policy supports in states with Educare schools.  We continue to place priority on these partners at the same time we expand our reach to other states.  We will continue to look to lessons from the Educare Learning Network and other effective local programs to inform effective state policy.

A Look Ahead

2015 marks the Alliance’s tenth birthday.  Our theme this year is: Honoring Our Past, Celebrating Our Future.  We are excited about the level of support that exists in existing and incoming Governors, Legislators, Administrators, and Education Chiefs across both sides of the aisle.  This year we are investing in  a range of supports that cut across the Policy Framework including: early learning, physical and emotional health for children and the adults who care for them, and parents and families so they can best nurture and develop their children. 

We are planning a special Alliance Partner Summit in November 2015 in Omaha, NE where Susie Buffett, our first and most long-standing investment partner, will welcome us back to where it all began.  We’ll be joined by many special guests, including all our valued Alliance investors who have the foresight and committment to work with us to get results faster than anyone could do alone because we are “stronger and better together.”  Stay tuned for lots more to come: new partners, a new video, a 10 Year History of Early Childhood policy in States, and more!

Happy New Year to you and yours.  2015 is going to be one spectacular year! 

Lisa Klein, Executive Director

(January 1, 2015)