The Boston Foundation’s Early Childhood Strategy: Overview

birth to eight
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Early Childhood Coffee & Conversations Series

In September 2018, the Boston Foundation hosted the inaugural Coffee & Conversation at the Wonder of Learning, with a presentation and discussion on challenges facing the early childhood workforce. Beginning in October 2018, the series will feature an in-depth look at the work of each of our nine "Seeding and Expanding Innovative Partnerships in Early Childhood" grantees, and the emerging lessons from their cross-sector partnerships. We invite donors, early childhood stakeholders, and thought partners to join us in these learning sessions.

As part of the Boston Foundation’s 2020 strategic plan, the Boston Foundation is working to support early childhood education and care in Boston so that our youngest residents arrive at kindergarten healthy and ready to learn, while meeting appropriate developmental and behavioral milestones along the way.

In June 2018, in partnership with members of our donor community, the Boston Foundation made grants to nine organizations leading cross-sector partnerships to expand access to high-quality education and care for Boston families with children, prenatal to age three.

Our Strategy has two components: 

  • Increasing access to quality Pre-K; and
  • Strengthening the interactions between caregivers and Boston’s youngest children (ages 0-3).

Leveraging TBF’s unique assets, we believe we are uniquely positioned to contribute to improving child wellbeing and readiness for success: 

  • Convening capacity;
  • Advocacy; 
  • Partnerships with donors and community organizations in the medical, education, and nonprofit community; and
  • Grant-making power that will help to bring attention to this critical time of life, and marshal the resources for improving child readiness for kindergarten. 
Early Childhood Survey cover Download the Early Childhood Community Survey presentation

We will work to drive systems level change, and programmatic collaboration. 

We will seek to partner with the adult stakeholders in the lives of babies and young children, and ultimately will measure by children’s readiness for success at age 5, using a comprehensive set of measures that are being collected by the Boston Opportunity Agenda’s Birth through 8 Citywide Network

We will also track our interim progress by our ability to increase the numbers of children meeting their developmental and behavioral milestones between birth and age 3. 

Download the Family Independence Initiative Parent Survey Report.

Our work will be guided by a four part framework:

  1. Build broad awareness and understanding of the challenges and opportunities in early childhood; advocate for policy change.

    • Capitalizing on TBF’s strength as a convener, we will work to build understanding of the problem, and the opportunities, including what interventions and policies have been shown to work. Click here to read about our recent convenings.
  2. Contribute to building a shared knowledge base by investing in the data (analytics) infrastructure and metrics. 

    • We will pair this with our awareness building to try to help other key groups understand what is known about early childhood development. This does not mean we will commission new research, as this is a heavily studied space. Rather, we will work to lift up what is known already.
    • We will develop a policy agenda to support babies and young children’s progress towards developmental and behavioral milestones.
    • We will continue to work with the Birth to 8 Collaborative to promote common metrics, indicators and measurement tools, and will help to report on progress toward those.
  3. Partner with others to scale proven programs and promising practice.   

    • We will look within our own city and region, and to other cities and regions, to lift up what’s already working. While there is a lot of promising work underway, there aren’t a lot of examples of effective innovations at scale. Undoubtedly we can learn from other places, including cities like Oakland, Denver, and New York to capture their lessons learned.
  4. Find innovative solutions to tackle longstanding challenges. 

    • Many of the challenges in this ecosystem appear unsolvable. Given the reach into diverse sectors, TBF can bring together new partners to the conversation to try to source solutions. Our first efforts in this will be to support cross sector partnerships working with babies and young children, ages prenatal to 3. Click here to read our 2018 Early Childhood Request for Proposals (RFP).
    • We have two surveys underway to better understand the infrastructure in neighborhoods across the city of Boston that supports families as they try to access the supports and services they need for their baby and toddler. 

Early Childhood Working Group Team at the Boston Foundation:

Elizabeth Pauley, Associate Vice President, Education to Career

Antoniya Marinova, Program Officer, Education to Career

Heather Buffo, Program Associate, Education to Career

Nineequa Blanding, Director, Health & Wellness

Ruth Cormier, Program Associate, Health & Wellness

Corean Reynolds, Program Associate, Jobs & Economic Development

Julie Smith-Bartoloni, Senior Director of Donor Relations

Laura McConaghy, Director, Philanthropy Operations