Bold Goals Education was recently selected, from applicants nationwide, to be one of just six participants in an Early Learning Nation Cohort. The goal of the Early Learning Nation Cohort is to strengthen early childhood work in communities and ensure that children (five years old and younger) and their families can access everything they need to thrive. StriveTogether partnered with the Center for the Study of Social Policy to create the Early Learning Nation Cohort with funding from the Bezos Family Foundation.
Throughout the nine-month course of the Early Learning Nation Cohort, Walker County partners will have the opportunity to develop a robust, cross-sector early learning action plan with technical assistance from national experts. By June 2020, Walker County will have a community-wide plan to improve the early learning landscape in the county.
We know that 90% of brain development occurs during a child’s first five years of life. Early childhood experiences establish either a sturdy or a fragile foundation for everything that follows. High-quality early learning programs provide opportunities to address gaps in early child development and to improve school readiness.For Walker County, the timing could not be better. Through support from the Walker Area Community Foundation (WACF), the Bold Goals Coalition expanded its Early Learning Action Network to Walker County earlier this year. Recognizing the momentum around this effort, the Walker County Children’s Policy Council hired the first ever School-Readiness Coordinator for the county this past November, with additional support from WACF.
Since Bold Goals identified expanding access to First Class Pre-K as a key metric for Central Alabama, Walker County has excelled. While only 1% of children in the county previously had access to Alabama’s First Class Pre-K Program, that number has now improved to 21%. But we’re just getting started. Plans call for reaching 70% access in future, which will require approximately 20 more First Class Pre-K classrooms. Through the Bold Goals Coalition, leaders in Walker County expect not only to reach that goal, but also to improve the overall early learning landscape through our work in this national cohort.
The Bold Goals Coalition is 200 organizations solving big community problems by aligning partners, resources and agendas.