Future engineers?

Future engineers?

WASHINGTON – Five Santa Barbara County foundations have joined the launch of Invest in US, a national campaign and challenge issued today by President Barack Obama to business leaders, philanthropists, advocates and public officials to build a better nation through high-quality early childhood programs for children from birth to age five. These foundations join dozens of corporations, foundations and nonprofits that have also pledged significant commitments – financial and otherwise – to making sure that more children and communities have high quality early childhood education programs.

Santa Barbara County funders, including the Orfalea Foundation, James S. Bower Foundation, Santa Barbara Foundation, Hutton Parker Foundation, and the Towbes Family Foundation, pledged a total of $3.5 million to a portfolio of initiatives that will:

  • Support a place-based comprehensive approach aimed at significantly improving school readiness in targeted communities,
  • Expand access to high quality early childhood education that supports the development of cognitive and social-emotional skills and prepares children for Kindergarten,
  • Support family and center-based quality accreditation,
  • Create a demonstration network of 40 high-quality early childhood centers that model innovative Preschool Food and Outdoor Classroom practices, and
  • Provide high quality preschool services to at-risk children and their families.

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The local foundations are represented at the White House Summit by Orfalea Foundation founder Natalie Orfalea and Early Childhood Education Director Adrianna Foss. According to Foss, “We’re thrilled that something we and our partners have been working on for over fifteen years has gained traction at the national level. The returns on these investments are clear. Not only are these investments critically important to our youngest learners and hard-working families, they will also produce better education, health, social and economic outcomes, as well as reduce the need for social spending.”

The Invest in US challenge, announced by President Obama today at the White House Summit on Early Education, is organized by the First Five Years Fund and its philanthropic partners. Invest in US catalyzes the overwhelming cross-sector support for early childhood education. In his last two State of the Union addresses, the President made early childhood education a key policy priority. Since his initial call to expand access to high-quality early childhood education to every child in America in his 2013 State of the Union Address, the President has proposed a series of new investments in early childhood education, and more than 30 states and cities have established new programs or expanded access to preschool. Just this year, the President told the nation that he would bring together elected officials, business leaders and philanthropists to galvanize efforts and help more children access the high-quality early childhood education they need. The Invest in US challenge answers that call.

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Investment in early childhood development is a critical component of the local funders’ mission to give every child in our community the best possible start in life, as high-quality birth to five programs result in better education, health, social and economic outcomes. Education researchers, teachers, economists and public health experts agree that the foundation for success begins long before children enter formal K-12 schooling. Those committing to Invest in US are building a better nation by helping to create programs that develop strong children and families.

Invest in US also comes on the heels of growing public and private investment in early childhood development. In addition to the announcement of significant new private sector funding, the departments of Education and Health and Human Services plan to invest $750 million in new grants for early learning programs. Numerous public leaders at the state and local level have also committed to making early childhood programs a policy priority.

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Invest in US commitments are intended to:

  • Strengthen public systems at the federal, state and local levels to ensure continuous quality improvements in parental education, home visiting, Early Head Start, quality child care, Head Start and preschool programs;
  • Integrate health and developmental screenings with early learning to provide parents with the information they need to optimize their child’s physical, emotional and intellectual development;
  • Improve the training, continuing education, professional development and living wages of early childhood educators;
  • Support greater access to evidence-based programs that support parents and families in fostering their children’s development; and
  • Promote and share ongoing program innovation and improvement, especially for those programs supporting parents and informal caregivers.

A full list of commitments announced Wednesday can be found at http://investinus.org/.

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About Invest in US

Invest in US is a challenge to public and private partners, business leaders, philanthropists, advocates, elected officials and you to build a better nation by expanding high-quality early childhood education programs for children from birth through age five. When we invest in them, we invest in us.

About the Orfalea Foundation

Founded in 2000, the Orfalea Foundation supports high-quality non-profit programs that promote healthy development and build skills for success in learning and in life. Across its range of focus areas, including education, school food reform, youth development, and community enrichment, the foundation works through collaborative initiatives and entrepreneurial partnerships to strengthen communities by empowering individuals. More information at www.orfaleafoundation.org and www.wholechildaction.org.

About the James S. Bower Foundation

The James S. Bower Foundation provides support for the positive social and cultural evolution of our world. The Foundation helps to create a better future by making grants to partners who share the belief that a healthier world can be fostered through compassionate action and social change. The Foundation’s giving is focused in Santa Barbara, California. More information at www.jsbowerfoundation.org

About the Santa Barbara Foundation

The Santa Barbara Foundation was established in 1928 and is the largest community foundation in the county committed to creating vibrant communities from Santa Maria to Carpinteria. For more than eight decades, the Santa Barbara Foundation has been at the center of civic activity as a solver of problems, a partner in philanthropy, and a critical supporter of community organizations and efforts. More information at www.sbfoundation.org

About the Hutton Parker Foundation

Hutton Parker Foundation strives to provide organizational sustainability to community-based nonprofit organizations throughout Santa Barbara County and to assist agencies in achieving their highest level of performance and delivery of services resulting in stronger, more efficient communities for all. More information at www.huttonfoundation.org

About the Towbes Family Foundation

The Towbes Foundation is a private, family funded foundation established in 1982 by Gail and Michael Towbes to primarily support Santa Barbara County based nonprofits in the areas of the arts, education and the free enterprise system.  The Towbes Foundation makes grants three times during its fiscal year of July through June which total nearly $1 million.  More information at towbesfoundation@towbes.com

About Early Childhood Education

Since the year 2000, the Orfalea Foundation has been committed to improving the life outcomes for young children through high quality early education. In Santa Barbara County, there are more than 170 early education centers in which thousands of young children spend 6-12 hours a day. These centers hold a key to the healthy development of our children. READ MORE

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