HOUSTON (May 6, 2015) – Collaborative for Children held its first State of the Children address Tuesday where President and CEO Carol Shattuck spoke about the current state of early education in the Houston region, and gave updates on the Collaborative’s College Bound from Birth initiative. Due to its success, Shattuck also announced Collaborative for Children’s plans to expand the initiative in 2015.
The College Bound from Birth (CBfB) program was launched in 2008 by Collaborative for Children through the generosity of the Houston Endowment. The program started at eight centers in Houston’s Sunnyside neighborhood, where Collaborative for Children trainers worked to improve the learning environments by working with center directors, teachers and parents. CBfB aims to make sure that all students who participate are school-ready by the time they reach public school. Its long-term goal is to increase the number of children from the Sunnyside and South Park neighborhoods who graduate from high school and go on to college.
The College Bound from Birth program has seen improved success each year since its inception. Now Collaborative for Children is looking to replicate the program so that other children in the Houston area can receive its benefits. Shattuck announced plans to expand the program into three new neighborhoods in 2015, starting in Aldine. “By expanding College Bound from Birth we hope to positively impact over 2,500 children and 1,800 parents and caregivers,” said Shattuck. The organization also wants to significantly improve the ability of at least 30 child care teachers to provide quality early education to their students.
Following Ms. Shattuck’s presentation, Jackie Bezos of the Bezos Family Foundation delivered the keynote address. She began by speaking about the trillions of neural connections that are made in a child’s brain during the first five years of their life, and how quality early learning can promote these connections and make them strong. Bezos went on to talk about the societal benefits of investing in early education such as higher graduation rates, higher individual lifetime earnings, reduced need for special education and reduced crime.
For the past 15 years the Bezos Family Foundation has been focusing on education. Thanks to contributions from the foundation, leading institutions have continued cutting-edge neuroscience research into brain development. She described how new technology allows us to view brain activity when a parent interacts with their child. “We are witnessing the effect of the delicate dance between a parent and child on a growing brain, and it’s simply breathtaking,” said Mrs. Bezos. She spoke about how the research points to focusing on early brain development. It led her and the Bezos Foundation to create Vroom, an initiative that helps to change parenting routines around the country based on healthy brain building research. She hopes to expand Vroom so that more and more parents can incorporate better brain building techniques into their everyday routines.
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