Great Learning

William Penn Foundation Commits to Invest in US Challenge

Posted: Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Source: William Penn Foundation

William Penn Foundation has 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. William Penn Foundation joins 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.

As part of Invest in US, the William Penn Foundation is pleased to announce a commitment of at least $11.2 million through 2015 to support early childhood education. Of that $11.2 million, $3.2 million in grants were approved at its November board meeting to support efforts to improve access to high quality early childhood education for children in low-income families in Philadelphia. Additionally, the Foundation expects to commit an additional $8-10 million in 2015 to continue the expansion of high quality early learning opportunities.

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 announced $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.

As part of this federal commitment to early learning, the Norris Square Community Alliance, a high quality childcare provider in Philadelphia, received a $1.4 million grant. At the state level, the Office of Child Development and Early learning received a $5.5 million grant to support high quality early learning partnerships throughout Pennsylvania.

Research in Pennsylvania found that providing early intervention services for children in pre-k eliminated the need for expensive special education services for 42% of children. Other research has shown that providing pre-k services is related to a 33% reduction in the number of children repeating a grade in elementary school. Most importantly, high quality pre-k is associated with better health, higher earnings, and greater professional success for adults.

"William Penn Foundation is pleased to continue its long-term commitment to improving opportunities and outcomes for Philadelphia’s youngest children," said William Penn Foundation Executive Director Laura Sparks. "The Foundation has a long track record of investment in early learning, and the importance of early learning investments is clear. Not only are such 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."

Investment in early childhood development is a critical component of William Penn Foundation’s mission to help ensure children from low-income families succeed by improving their access to high-quality, outcome-focused educational opportunities. 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.

The Invest in US challenge was announced by President Obama today at the White House Summit on Early Education. Organized by the First Five Years Fund, Invest in US catalyzes the overwhelming cross-sector support for early childhood education.

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 can be found at http://investinus.org.

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 William Penn Foundation

The William Penn Foundation, founded in 1945 by Otto and Phoebe Haas, is dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Greater Philadelphia region through efforts that increase educational opportunities for children from low-income families, ensure a sustainable environment, foster creativity that enhances civic life, and advance philanthropy in the Philadelphia region. In partnership with others, the Foundation works to advance opportunity, ensure sustainability, and enable effective solutions. Since inception, the Foundation has made nearly 10,000 grants totaling over $1.6 billion. The Foundation’s assets exceed over $2.3 billion as of November 30, 2014.