Nebraska will receive a $100,000 planning grant to develop a policy framework to advance high-quality early learning opportunities for the state’s youngest children. The Pritzker Children’s Initiative (PCI) Prenatal-to-Age-Three State Grant Competition was designed to identify states who demonstrate strategic vision and cross-sector collaboration in support of infants, toddlers and their families.
Nebraska was one of just 11 states to receive a grant out of 42 that applied. Successful applicants are also eligible for Implementation Grants based on the quality of the plan they develop over the next six to nine months.
“This grant competition has illuminated the nation’s commitment to supporting infants and toddlers,” said Gerry Cobb, director of the Pritzker Children’s Initiative. “Nebraska submitted a bold proposal that brings diverse leaders to the table to coordinate across fields and establish a unified policy agenda and action plan supporting infants, toddlers and their families.”
First 3 Years are Critical
Research shows that the first three years of life are a critically important period in the development of brain architecture, creating a foundation for lifelong learning, behavior and health. The planning grant will allow Nebraska public and private sector stakeholders to collaborate on ways to reach more of Nebraska’s nearly 80,000 infants and toddlers with high-quality opportunities for early development.
First Five Nebraska will lead the cross-sector effort to develop a cohesive prenatal-to-age-three policy framework for the state. First Five Nebraska Director Becky Veak said the grant award comes at a time when early childhood is an increasingly urgent topic in conversations about our state’s workforce challenges and prospects for continued social and economic growth. “The decisions we make about the care and education of very young children have everything to do with our ability to develop, attract and retain young families and talent in our state,” she said. “Education, business, industry, philanthropy and other interests need to be involved in shaping early childhood policy as well as helping to implement it.”
Preschool Development Grant Will Inform PCI Work
The PCI planning grant dovetails closely with another effort underway to improve the coordination, efficiency and accountability of Nebraska’s early childhood infrastructure through a separate, federal Preschool Development Grant (PDG) award. Under the guidance of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, the federal grant will produce a comprehensive assessment of statewide early childhood needs that will in turn inform the work of the PCI planning grant.
The Pritzker Children’s Initiative, a project of the J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation, is committed to building a promising future for our country by investing in and supporting solutions in early childhood development for children prenatal to age 3, with the goal of every child reaching kindergarten ready to learn. More information about PCI.
Congratulations on receiving this grant funding to support planning for infrastructure development for children prenatally to age 3. Nebraska can greatly benefit from focused planning opportunities for our tiniest citizens and dovetailing this with the PDG opportunity and statewide assessment is brilliant and timely. First Five Nebraska possesses the expertise in public education and advocacy efforts that is needed to carry this through and, to build on over time.