Early Childhood

Two Foundations Set to Bring $50 Million of ‘Hope’ to Children, Families of Detroit

By Marva Hinton — November 16, 2017 2 min read
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Two Michigan-based foundations are teaming up to improve early-childhood education in Detroit.

The W.K. Kellogg and Kresge Foundations recently released a 10-year plan called the Hope Starts Here Community Framework, which is designed to put young children and their families at the forefront of the city’s public policy and business decisions.

The two foundations are also each donating $25 million to the effort and hoping to raise additional funds from other sources, including the state and the mayor’s office.

Increasing access to early-childhood education and improving the quality of these programs is a big part of the framework.

“When you give a child that great positioning going from preschool into kindergarten it’s less likely that they will fall behind and struggle, and we know the remedial costs if they do are much more expensive than those early investments,” said La June Montgomery Tabron, the president and CEO of the Kellogg Foundation.

The framework was developed through a year-long process that brought together more than 18,000 people across Detroit to brainstorm on the problems facing young children and families in the city and how to solve them. That group included parents, early-childhood educators, health-care providers, and representatives from local and state government as well as leaders from the business community and philanthropic organizations.

The need in the city is great. The framework lays out many of the challenges facing young children in Detroit:

  • More than 60 percent of children 5 and younger live in poverty.
  • More than 13 out of every 1,000 babies born in Detroit die before their first birthday.
  • 87 percent of Detroit’s 3rd graders are not reading at grade level.

It also lists imperatives and strategies to achieve the goal of putting young children and families first by 2027 including finding new ways to fund early-childhood education, establishing a comprehensive health and developmental screening system, and better compensating those who work in child care.

“There are some real tangible outcomes that we can achieve that are not far-reaching but very realistic if we all concentrate on making sure that all children have access and we all agree what quality early-childhood education looks like,” said Tabron. “Ten years down the line I would hope that there isn’t a conversation in Detroit about the lack of quality or access for children. I also would like to see 10 years from now kindergarten readiness is extremely high in Detroit.”

An earlier version of this blog post incorrectly cited a percentage for Detroit’s infant mortality rate. The rate is 13.5 per 1,000 births.

Photo: A young student works on an art project at the Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute Early Childhood Center at Wayne State University in Detroit. Credit Kresge Foundation

A version of this news article first appeared in the Early Years blog.