“Raising of Fort Worth” Lifts Up Sectors to Support Quality Early Education
It’s been five months since the last Raising of Fort Worth (ROFW) event, and much has been happening in the realm of early learning in Tarrant County. On Tuesday, April 26, 2016, early education advocates and community members across the business, health, faith, civic, philanthropy, education, and nonprofit sectors came together to share progress, address obstacles, and chart next steps in their respective efforts to support a quality early education for every child age 0-8 in Fort Worth.
The fourth ROFW breakfast featured two special guests – kicking off the morning was Mayor Betsy Price’s Chief of Staff Mattie Parker, and the event concluded with a wrap-up by Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Dr. Kent Scribner.
Below are some of the event’s key discussion items and takeaways.
In recent months, ROFW sector advocates have been working diligently to grow awareness and support for local early learning efforts within their respective communities. A few of these sector developments included:
- HEALTH: A call was organized with healthcare leaders from Cook Children’s, JPS, Blue Cross Blue Shield, HCA, Texas Health Resources, TCU Harris College of Nursing, and Tarrant County Public Health Department to vet and revise tangible action items for their sector (click here to see the list). Leslie Casey of UNTHSC, ROFW’s health sector advocate, is organizing another call this quarter with these leaders to continue best-practice sharing and align on next steps.
- BUSINESS: A small group meeting was held with local banking executives, Mayor Betsy Price, and FWISD Superintendent Dr. Kent Scribner to learn more about FWISD’s plans to enroll community support for promoting stronger education outcomes. ROFW’s business sector advocate, Todd Ritterbusch of JPMorgan Chase, seeks to reconvene this group to develop specific strategies for engaging the business community moving forward.
- PHILANTHROPY: The North Texas Community Foundation, in partnership with Child Care Associates and Children at Risk, published a study entitled “Growing Up in North Texas 2016” to inform practices and programs aimed at helping children in Tarrant County. ROFW sector advocate Rose Bradshaw of North Texas Community Foundation also assists in hosting a regular funders’ education roundtable, with leadership from The Morris Foundation, to generate thoughtful dialogue around effective investments in local education.
Highlights from the morning’s speakers included the following:
- Mattie Parker, Chief of Staff for Mayor Betsy Price, emphasized the importance of supporting parents and families to create a healthy foundation for their children, stating that “parents are our children’s first teachers.” She also drew upon the Mayor’s State of the City address earlier this year, when the Mayor shared that “education is economic development” and is critical to the future success of Fort Worth.
- Grant Coates, President & CEO of The Miles Foundation, introduced Mattie and summarized takeaways from the earlier ROFW events. He said, “Quality early education matters, and it impacts more than just families with young children. The return on investment is high – the dollars we spend now will pay dividends far into the future.”
- Dr. Kent Scribner, Superintendent for the Fort Worth ISD, began by sharing sobering statistics. “Only 30 percent of children born here today will be able to read on grade level by the 3rd grade,” he stated. “We need a sense of urgency.” But he concluded on a positive note: “We are on the verge of an exciting announcement” for early learning in Fort Worth. “I’m excited for what’s ahead.”
The majority of the morning was dedicated to sector table breakout discussions led by the ROFW advocates. These discussions included taking stock of progress and challenges to date, as well as reporting to the larger group on future next steps.
Following were some of the quotes that emerged from those conversations:
- “Getting information and resources to parents and families is critical.” – Civic Sector
- “We are honing in on social/emotional development.” – Early Education Sector
- “We are finding ways to continuously share best practices and data.” – Nonprofit Sector
- “The business community wants to be engaged in a meaningful way – we’re working on specific actions they can take to make a difference.” – Business Sector
Each of the sector action plans will be revised on an ongoing basis as sector advocates report updates on their respective plans. NOTE: Click here to view/download the current working drafts of these action plans.
Current ROFW sector advocates include: Leslie Casey, UNTHSC (Health), Todd Ritterbusch, JPMorgan Chase (Business), Satoya Williams, FWISD (Civic), Sandra Lamm, Early Learning Alliance (Faith), Dr. Mary Patton, TCU College of Education (Higher Education), Todd Landry, Lena Pope (Nonprofit), LaToya Stewart, United Way (Public Education), Rose Bradshaw, North Texas Community Foundation (Philanthropy), Suzanne Stevenson, The Parenting Center (Parents).
If you’d like to be a part of the Raising of Fort Worth effort, we encourage you to:
- Download the ROFW flyer that illustrates how early learning connects to economic development in Fort Worth. Then send it to three other people who should know about these local initiatives.
- Share your sector’s action plan with colleagues and peers to garner their feedback.
- Sign up to receive communications on key early childhood developments in Fort Worth, upcoming Raising of Fort Worth events and other early childhood news.
- Visit the Raising of Fort Worth website for additional resources and information. Stay tuned for our next event!
The Raising of Fort Worth is sponsored by The Miles Foundation, with key partners including First3Years, North Texas Community Foundation, Early Learning Alliance, United Way of Tarrant County, Camp Fire First Texas, Child Care Associates, Rainwater Charitable Foundation, The Parenting Center, and Lena Pope.
If you have questions or would like additional information, contact Sadie Funk at First3Years at 214.616.2918 or firstname.lastname@example.org.