ReadyNation will recruit 4-6 nationally known CEOs from Fortune 500 or highly recognized brand name companies to commit to making early childhood education an organizational priority in terms of their community, employee engagement, and philanthropic efforts. Within the first 18 months ReadyNation will host a high profile national business leader event (known here as the CEO Summit) where these CEOs would announce their commitment to early childhood and discuss how other businesses, large and small, can follow suit. ReadyNation will work with them to shape these commitments, which can take a variety of forms including: helping their own employees find high quality child care, supporting local programs through volunteerism and funding, and advocating for local, state or federal policy change.
Following the Summit, the CEO Engagement Project participants will pursue and report back on the commitments announced at the Summit. The second year would culminate in a 'Ready Nation Business Leader Award' to recognize the business leader or company that has had the greatest impact on early childhood, determined by a review committee which will include members of the ReadyNation Advisory Board. America's Promise Alliance as well as groups such as Corporate Voices for Working Families has a long history and successful track record of developing awards and recognition programs which have proven to be powerful tools in motivating action. This program will foster competition and dramatically increase the profile of and investment in evidence-based early childhood policy and programs.
Host initial advisory committee for the project by 5/30/12
Raise initial round of funding by 8/30/12
Recruit 2 CEOs by 8/30/12
Recruit 2-4 additional CEOs by 12/31/12
Finalize fundraising by 12/31/12
Finalize date and location for Summit by 12/31/12
Plan agenda and logistics for Summit by 3/31/13
Host CEO Summit by 9/30/13
Today, American students are less prepared than their parents and their international peers in becoming productive citizens, neighbors, and taxpayers. Projections of the future workforce our country needs calls for many more college graduates than our education system currently produces. To fix this broken workforce pipeline, we need to invest in high-quality, evidence driven programs for young children, starting even before birth.
Investments in programs that support quality child development in the earliest years, from prenatal to age five, produce the greatest returns to children, families and society. Brain and social development in these years create the foundation for lifelong learning. At age three, children of poor parents use fewer than half the words spoken by their wealthier peers. By the beginning of kindergarten, many low-income children are so far behind that they will repeat grades, struggle through school, and never graduate. This has dire consequences for not only the children, but also for state and federal budgets and for the nation's economic competitiveness. Children who lack a strong start disproportionately grow to be adults who are unhealthy, unemployed or earn lower wages, pay fewer taxes, and rely more on public services. Despite significant evidence that investment in young children reaps huge returns to society, state spending on pre-kindergarten has plummeted by more than $700 per child over the last decade according to the National Institute of Early Education Research. With states facing huge budget crises this situation is even more challenging. Despite federal initiatives like the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge nine states have cut pre-k enrollment, one has eliminated their program entirely, and eleven still do not offer any state funded pre-k.
ReadyNation, the early childhood education initiative of America's Promise Alliance, believes that a select group of high-profile CEOs from well-known American corporations could help advance a national agenda for early childhood policy. Just like with that effort, this initiative would galvanize high level CEOs to advance a national agenda for early childhood. These CEOs would advance state policies through sharing their support for early childhood with legislators, supporting local programs through funding or volunteerism, recruiting other business leaders to become active, and using their public positions as a bully pulpit to dramatically increase the profile of early childhood investments as a critical economic issue. ReadyNation will recruit CEOs who have started to support early childhood programs and want to expand their profile, or who want to begin such an initiative. For example, many CEOs and corporations have an interest in K-12 education that can be expanded to include the years before kindergarten.
ReadyNation has not asked members for funding, as the commitment is completely supported by foundations and other funders. ReadyNation is happy to work with other business groups to educate their members and support them to take action, in order to improve the local and state workforce.
ReadyNation has provided business executives to speak at events to share the business case on investing in early childhood. ReadyNation has collaborated with state and local groups to reach business leaders and encourage them to take action. Joining ReadyNation, an international network of business executives, is a means by which business leaders can become equipped to then take action with local groups. ReadyNation has also provided ideas for what business leaders can do at the company or community levels to support young children and their families.