For Immediate Release: October 20, 2021
Contact: [email protected]
New partnerships launched at Too Small to Fail’s fourth annual ‘Learning in Everyday Spaces’ Summit with the LaundryCares Foundation
President Bill Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, and leaders in education, business, and local communities highlight importance of neighborhood spaces on early childhood education and equity
NEW YORK, NY — At the fourth annual Learning in Everyday Spaces Summit, hosted by the Clinton Foundation’s early childhood initiative Too Small to Fail and the LaundryCares Foundation, partners launched new commitments to promote early learning and create literacy-rich environments for children and their families.
“Research tells us that the first five years of life are critical for young children’s early brain and language development. And that the best way to build young people’s brains is for parents and caregivers to spend time engaging regularly by talking, reading, and singing with them every day,” said President Clinton. “We know the environments in which children are growing up matter a great deal. And far too many children are growing up in environments that are not designed and built in ways that help them thrive. That’s why I’m so proud of the work that Too Small to Fail has been doing to create more equitable access to fun, learning-rich environments.”
“The last year and a half presented new and intensified challenges, especially when it comes to caring for our children, and I just have been consistently inspired by the relentless passion, compassion, and commitment of so many of the organizations and people who are here with us today,” added Chelsea Clinton, vice chair, Clinton Foundation. “At the Clinton Foundation, all our work is predicated on the simple belief that everyone deserves a chance to succeed, and when we all work better, we’ll all do better.”
About the Learning in Everyday Spaces Summit
More than 2,000 participants from across the United States and around the world joined sessions focused on the impact and importance of neighborhood spaces — including laundromats, playgrounds, grocery stores, public housing, family courts, and more — as learning-rich environments that promote children’s early brain and language development, as well as neighborhood equity.
President Bill Clinton served as keynote speaker, and Chelsea Clinton announced two new projects to support parents and communities in creating learning-rich environments:
- Kiwanis International is committing to partnering with Too Small to Fail and the LaundryCares Foundation to mobilize Kiwanis clubs across the country to distribute books and create learning-rich environments in everyday community spaces.
- Penguin Young Readers is committing to donate 50,000 books to families served by Too Small to Fail and their partners, the National Diaper Bank Network, and the National Council for Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Half of these books will be distributed to families visiting their local diaper bank, and the other half will be shared with families at family court appointments. Through the years, Penguin Young Readers has donated 250,000 new children’s books to Too Small to Fail and their partners.
Featured speakers included Gregg Behr, executive director, Grable Foundation; Barbara Bouza, president, business management, design & development, Walt Disney Imagineering; Miriam Calderon, deputy assistant secretary, Early Learning, U.S. Department of Education; Senator William H. Frist, M.D., former U.S. Senate Majority Leader; Jacqueline Jones, president & CEO, Foundation for Child Development; Michele Mason, president, American Society of Association Executives; Cheryl Oldham, vice president, Education Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Ralph Smith, managing director, Campaign for Grade-Level Reading; Bo Stjerne Thomsen, Chair of Learning through Play, LEGO Foundation; and more, including parents and caregivers who shared about their experiences, particularly throughout the pandemic, and their hopes and wishes for their communities.
“I’m grateful that our Summit continues to grow in its scope and reach to all who put lifting up their communities at the forefront. We continue to better understand the incredible opportunity we have to connect early childhood development and literacy resources directly to families and children who visit the neighborhood laundromat each week,” added Brian Wallace, CEO of Coin Laundry Association. “The collaborations initiated during this Summit will not only enhance our ability to better serve laundromat customers but also give other valuable everyday spaces insight into how they can join our movement.
The conference also addressed the impact of COVID-19 on early learning, and highlighted research from Brandeis University’s that ranks neighborhoods by level of child opportunity from very low to very high in the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, where two-thirds of children live. The research shows that neighborhood conditions that promote children’s health and development vary widely across the United; children who live only short distances apart often experience completely different opportunities in their neighborhoods that can influence how they develop.
In addition, Chelsea Clinton presented this year’s LaundryCares Achievement Awards to recognize outstanding service and exemplary best practices for laundromat owners, early literacy providers, and partnerships. This year’s award recipients:
- Exceptional Service to Community Award: Mike Gregory, Peak Laundry, Denver Colorado;
- Exceptional Partnership Award: Paul Hansen and Michelle Dinneen-White, with Play Smart Literacy, in Chicago, Illinois; and
- Exceptional Early Literacy Programming Award: Denver Public Library.
About Too Small to Fail’s partnership with the LaundryCares Foundation
The partnership between Too Small to Fail and the LaundryCares Foundation began as part of a 2015 Clinton Global Initiative America Commitment to Action. What started as a pledge to reach 5,000 laundromats with posters and early learning materials has grown into a movement to transform laundromats into literacy-rich environments. The partnership includes: establishing “Family Read, Play & Learn” spaces in laundromats nationwide, distributing educational resources, and hosting Free Laundry & Literacy Day events where families can engage in early learning activities, as well as receive information and resources from local community-based organizations.
At the inaugural LaundryCares Literacy Summit in 2018, the LaundryCares Foundation and Too Small to Fail first developed “Family Read, Play & Learn” spaces to create literacy-rich early learning opportunities for talking, reading, singing, writing, and playing among young children and families inside laundromats. These spaces include a sofa, bookshelf filled with high-quality children’s books, puppets, crayons, in-store signage for parents, an alphabet rug, blocks, magnetic letters, and family tip sheets. Evaluation findings from a pilot study found that children engaged in 30 times more literacy-rich activities in laundromats with “Family Read, Play & Learn Spaces” than those without these spaces. Placing “Family Read, Play & Learn” spaces in laundromats also had an overwhelmingly positive effect on children’s literacy-related activity during their visit. Researchers observed 1,378 instances of literacy-related activities in laundromats with these spaces compared to seven instances in laundromats without these spaces.
To date, 116 laundromat owners have installed the “Family Read, Play & Learn” spaces in their laundromats, and the work continues to grow. The partnership has been covered by national and local news organizations across the country – including PBS Newshour (link is external), Romper (link is external), Chicago Tribune (link is external), New Orleans Times-Picayune (link is external), Huffington Post (link is external), Spectrum News NY1 (link is external), and many more.
About the LaundryCares Foundation
The LaundryCares Foundation is dedicated to helping laundromat owners provide services through their stores such as Free Laundry & Literacy Days and childhood literacy resources to families in underserved communities. Visit us at https://www.laundrycares.org (link is external). For additional information, please contact Dan Naumann at (630) 953-7920 or at [email protected] (link sends e-mail).
About Too Small to Fail
Too Small to Fail, the early childhood initiative of the Clinton Foundation, promotes early brain and language development by supporting parents and caregivers with tools to talk, read, and sing with their young children from birth. Today, almost 60 percent of children in the United States start kindergarten unprepared, lagging behind their peers in critical language and reading skills. Through partnerships with pediatricians, hospitals, faith-based leaders, community-based organizations, businesses, entertainment industry leaders, and others, Too Small to Fail is meeting parents where they are to help them prepare their children for success in school and beyond. Whether at the pediatrician’s office or the playground, Too Small to Fail aims to make small moments big by creating opportunities for meaningful interactions anytime, anywhere. Learn more at www.toosmall.org (link is external).