New RWJF Grant Will Support Education & Talent Development Goals

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation awarded the Economy League and United Way $200,000 to identify standard early childhood quality and kindergarten readiness assessments and develop a campaign for their adoption. The Roadmaps to Health Community Grant came about through the work of the Education and Talent Development Strategy Team convened earlier this year as part of World Class Greater Philadelphia.  Read the release.


How does this relate to World Class?


Given the life-long impacts that quality early learning has on education and employment outcomes into adulthood, these investments in early childhood system change will have a major impact on both individual and regional success. Do the math: the year 2026 is our target date for World Class Greater Philadelphia, and kids starting kindergarten in 2015 will be applying to college in 2026, and statistics show that most will matriculate to institutions in this region. We need them to have had the best foundation possible to start this most crucial chapter of their lives.


What is the Roadmaps to Health Community Grant?


The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Roadmaps to Health Community Grants were awarded to 18 coalitions across the United States to improve the health of those communities. These alliances aim to create healthier places to live, learn, work, and play. 


The grant will support a two-year education and advocacy campaign, co-directed by the Economy League and the United Way and in partnership with a coalition of local education and community partners, to build broad support among parents, school superintendents and boards, key business leaders, state agencies and elected officials to adopt and implement common kindergarten readiness assessments across the early childhood and K-12 education sectors.


While assessments of childcare quality and school readiness are the two most common measures of early childhood education effectiveness, data for both of these measures is highly fragmented across the region. Investing in a system change to standardize early childhood education quality and kindergarten readiness assessments region-wide will help:


  • Empower parents to increase demand for high-quality early learning slots,

  • Increase support among regional business and civic leaders for early childhood investments,

  • Strengthen connections between early childhood and K-12 curricula, and

  • Improve the effectiveness of early childhood education instruction.

How will the Economy League work with United Way and the other partners?


The Economy League and United Way created a two-year action plan of leadership outreach and advocacy to effect this change. Starting in early 2013, we will convene a cross-sector working group to identify standard early childhood quality and kindergarten readiness assessments for Greater Philadelphia. In 2014, we will focus on an awareness and advocacy campaign for their adoption across the tri-state region that will target key business leaders, state departments of education, and parent organizations.


Additional project partners are Philadelphia Health Management Corporation, Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children, William Penn Foundation, and PNC.