CHICAGO, Aug. 2, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Ounce of Prevention Fund today announced a $5 million grant from the Pritzker Children's Initiative to increase access to high-quality early experiences for low-income children and parents across the country. The investment will directly support the Ounce mission to give every young child, especially those born into poverty, the strongest possible start in life.
Through its Pritzker Children's Initiative, the J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation has long been a champion of quality early learning. In addition to directly supporting the Ounce and other leading organizations in the early childhood education field, the Foundation is a vocal advocate for increased investments in early learning by government and the philanthropic and business communities.
"Quality early learning from birth sets children on the path to success in school and in life. And when they succeed, we all succeed," said J.B. Pritzker. "In Achieving Kindergarten Readiness for All Our Children: A Funder's Guide to Early Childhood Development from Birth to Five, we reaffirmed our commitment to investing in organizations like the Ounce that are at the leading edge of creating high quality programs for our youngest learners."
Research shows that there are nearly 12 million low-income children birth – age 5 across the nation; nearly 50 percent of these children may be unprepared to enter kindergarten. Research also continues to show that expanding access to high-quality early childhood education programs helps to prevent achievement gaps before they start. With quality learning experiences and healthy relationships, at-risk children are more likely to grow into accomplished students, successful workers and engaged citizens.
The Pritzker funding will enable the Ounce to expand access to quality learning experiences during the critical first years. It will support the Ounce in hosting the National Summit on Quality in Home Visiting Programs and peer learning communities. These important forums for the exchange of ideas and lessons learned across states will accelerate innovation in the field and improve early childhood systems and policies, thereby helping to further expand access to quality evidence-based home visiting programs for infants and toddlers nationwide. Home visiting has proven to be one of the most effective means to reach children through age three.
The grant will also support the creation of a Parenting Trajectory to more effectively support parents as the primary educators and nurturers of their children, and expand Lead Learn Excel™ to help more school- and center-based leaders achieve instructional excellence in their early childhood classrooms. It will also help fund the Five Essentials Early Education Measurement System to measure and strengthen the organizational conditions that are vital to continuous improvement in early childhood education settings.
"More than three decades of experience have led us to identify some big bets that have the potential to transform early learning. We are so grateful to the J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation for sharing our belief in these innovations," said Diana Rauner, president of the Ounce of Prevention Fund. "By developing strong leaders and programs, empowering parents and strengthening early learning systems, together we can change lives for children and families."
For more than 15 years, the Pritzker Children's Initiative has been committed to a single, attainable goal: that all at-risk children throughout the U.S. will have access to high quality early childhood development resources, increasing their likelihood of success in school and life. With a focus on the importance of birth to age three, the Initiative supports programs that unlock public and private investments in early childhood development, increase the supply and reach of evidence-based interventions, and accelerate innovation and knowledge sharing.
About the Ounce of Prevention Fund
The Ounce of Prevention Fund is a private-public partnership dedicated to providing all children – especially those from low-income families – with high-quality early childhood experiences from birth to age 5. The Ounce aims to be the nation's trusted source for early childhood research and program models that focus on the physical, social and emotional development of children from birth to age five. To give children and families most in-need the best chance for success, the Ounce develops programs, conducts research, trains educators and strongly advocates for early childhood education. Our early childhood programs, such as Educare, have created national models of high-quality early childhood education, ensuring that more children have access to opportunities best suited for their future success.
SOURCE The Ounce of Prevention Fund