More than 1/3 of Boston’s entering kindergarteners don’t have the skills to succeed. By third grade, that number doubles to 2/3.
These numbers are strong predictors of future graduation rates, incomes, and our community’s long-range economic prosperity. But at least we have that information. What is sorely lacking is information on how kids are doing early on before school, when research has proven that identifying and correcting developmental delays will have the greatest positive impact.
Today, United Way and the PE/VC Council (a group of Private Equity and Venture Capital industry leaders) announced the DRIVE initiative: Data and Resources Impacting Vital Early Education with the goal to stop school failure before it ever starts by using proven screening methods and data analysis to have the greatest impact.
In partnership with United Way and Thrive in 5, the DRIVE initiative will:
- Expand early childhood screening citywide
- Leverage a train-the-trainer model to get more active parent screeners
- Build technology infrastructure with an easy to use platform that aggregates this data
- Analyze this data to identify trends and best focus investments
Of the 40,000 children in Boston, we currently only have access to screening data on approximately 1,100. This project would make Boston the first city to create a comprehensive database to power a data-driven approach to investing in early childhood.
In fact, just two days ago, The White House Summit on Early Education launched its Playbook for Early Learning to encourage cities and states to develop comprehensive approaches to early childhood education. Among the six essential strategies for success identified by the summit were 1) developing a data-centric approach to early childhood screening and 2) building effective data tracking and analysis tools.
Additionally, the White House Summit on Early Education lauded the work of United Way and Thrive in 5 and highlighted Boston as one of only two US cities that have “started implementation and continue to expand plans, while evaluating their progress, setting them on the path to becoming a model early learning city for the nation”.
Overall, the projected annual cost of the program will be between $250,000 and $300,000.
- $50 will allow us to screen and, most importantly, conduct year-round follow-up for a child who needs help and wouldn’t receive it without this program and your support.
- $1,250 will provide the screening for an entire average-sized pre-school class.
- The data infrastructure project, which is a backbone to this initiative, we estimate will cost around $75K.
Since 2003, the PE/VC industry has raised an incredible $20 million to fund United Way’s work. Now, they are poised to DRIVE an even greater impact on our community and help Boston become a model learning city for the nation.
Many of us in the room have young kids – my wife and I have three under nine. If you have kids, especially young kids, you know they are so resilient, such fast learners. Our youngest needed a speech therapist when he was 3 and his improvement and ability to overcome early problems was staggeringly fast. As kids get older, if they are struggling with any developmental areas, they can snowball as children become more aware and start to feel self-conscious or discouraged in school. Earlier is unquestionably better.
-Jason Trevisan, Polaris Partners, PE/VC Leadership Council
The Council also emphasized the importance of getting involved – beyond writing a check. From industry networking events to hands-on volunteer opportunities, many levels of participation are possible and welcome.
In it’s first year, the PE/VC Associate Council (a volunteer group of industry associates focused on ) have helped transform local playgrounds, packed and distributed Thanksgiving meals with friends and family, and used their analytical expertise to assist on United Way strategic initiatives.
See more photos of the PE/VC Leadership Breakfast in the Facebook album.