Curious about what the Funders for Montana’s Children has been up to? Here’s an update:

Funders for Montana’s Children members represent foundations whose philanthropic interests include a focus on early childhood. We believe that our most precious resource is our children and that we must help support Montana families and communities that are working to foster quality opportunities for every child.

Funders for Montana’s Children want all Montanans to understand the importance of early childhood. We are committed to enriching the lives of children 0-3 by significantly increasing exposure and access to quality relationships, experiences and environments. Our goal is to move the needle on the indicators that predict young children’s ability to play, learn, and live in a way that supports optimal growth and development.

There is over 50 years of empirical research chronicling the importance of the early years and our ability to improve life outcomes, yet the resources dedicated to the promoting the well-being of young children are woefully inadequate to the task. The US ranks far behind other countries in investments in early childhood and consequentially in reading literacy, cognitive skill development, academic performance and graduation rates. The aftermath of failing to invest in programs that give our children the best beginning possible results in a loss of human potential is devastating to us all.

We know that any significant shift will require concentrated and coordinated public private partnerships. The private sector has a unique and critical role to play in our efforts. We understand the impact on the business community when they lack access to a consistent, engaged workforce who can self-regulate, think creatively, and interact with social and emotional competence. Employees who are parenting often struggle to balance performance at work with meeting the needs of their young children. The influence the business community has on policy makers who can make necessary changes to enhance Montana’s commitment to early childhood is powerful.

In the past several months, we have:

  • conducted a literary review to identify key Early Childhood messages relevant to the target group;
  • dialogued with principal national, state and local stakeholders;
  • initiated new relationships with stakeholders;
  • funded report on Child Care and Access conducted by Mt Budget and Policy Center
  • researched other statewide Early Childhood initiatives

In the upcoming year, we will:

  • create and deliver a targeted message for the private sector that will encourage business leaders/ emerging leaders to join us to influence, invest and advocate in/for Early Childhood;
  • expand the number of like-minded local, state, regional and national partners committed to Montana’s youngest citizens as evidenced by their actions;
  • work with these partners in a strategic, coordinated manner to accomplish our goals;
  • increase public and private investments in early childhood;
  • identify proven/innovative early childhood initiatives that will support and enhance the work of our partners for future investments;
  • share information and resources with our partners as we join with them to improve the well-being of Montana’s children.

Resources
Child Care and Access Report
http://www.montanabudget.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Child-Care-Final.pdf

A New Convert’s Views on Early Childhood Education/CEO Federal Reserve Bank Atlanta
https://www.frbatlanta.org/news/speeches/2008/080922-lockhart.aspx

Statewide EC Initiatives
http://www.letsgrowkids.org/

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Funders and other contributors: The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, The Mountain Sky Guest Ranch Fund an affiliate fund of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, O.P.& W.E. Edwards Foundation, the Kelley Family Foundation, First Interstate BancSystem Foundation, and Montana Community Foundation.

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