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Public Supports Investments in Early Learning; Will Congress Listen?

By Hannah Matthews

Seventy percent of Americans favor providing 4-year-olds with access to high-quality preschool, according to results of a national survey of voters released today by the First Five Years Fund (FFYF). The survey found that approval of early learning investments was strong across party lines. Support for a plan similar to the President’s early learning proposal increased to 77 percent when respondents were told explicitly that the proposal would not add to the deficit, including 72 percent support from Republicans, 71 percent from Independents and 88 percent from Democrats. A majority of voters (51 percent) strongly support such a proposal.

It’s no surprise that voters agree with increased investments in early learning. Parents, economists, and business leaders understand that learning begins at birth and that investments in quality early childhood programs help children succeed in school and in life.

Three in five voters want Congress to act on legislation now rather than wait. Will Congress listen? The answer is unclear. Recently the Senate Appropriations Committee showed its support for investing in early learning. However, when the House takes up its version of a spending bill, the outcome is likely to be different. The overall spending framework adopted by the House would force cuts on many programs, including child care and early education.

The President proposed funding his Preschool for All initiative through an increased tobacco tax, which would not require the House or Senate to allocate funding each year. Regardless, policymakers in both houses must appreciate the value in investments that support our youngest children-investments that have been shown to result in economic savings down the line.

Read FFYF’s poll results here.

CEO group advances early education effort

In making its case that better early childhood education is a strategy for economic development, a group of Maine CEOs knew they needed to do one thing: show Maine the money.

That’s what brought the Maine Early Learning Investment Group to finance a study of the return on investment from a birth-to-kindergarten education system. The study’s finding: For each child who receives an upfront investment of $26,200 over five years, the return over the lifespan of that child is $125,400 — 4.8 times the initial investment.

Read the entire article

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Jim Clair, chairman of the Maine Early Learning Investment Group and CEO of Goold Health Systems, says the early learning organization hopes to launch a pilot program for children ages 0-3 in the next six months.

Professor Heckman on the President’s Plan

As the President, Congress and advocates grapple with turning a good idea into a better reality for America, it is critical that lawmakers understand which investments will have the greatest impact and when they will be most effective. Noble Laureate and Economist Professor James Heckman comments on President Obama’s early childhood statements.

MELIG Press Conference

John Peters, MELIG co-chair and former CEO Downeast Energy, discusses the importance of early childhood investment at the March 12, 2013 Press Conference at the State House in Augusta.   Co-chair Jim Clair, (CEO of Goold Health Systems) announced the Elevate Maine Initiative and $10 M fundraising drive earlier, joined by 6 other MELIG members (Steve Rich, President/CEO WBRC Architects Engineers; Chris Emmons, President/CEO Gorham Savings Bank; Meredith Strang Burgess, President/CEO Burgess Advertising and Marketing; Jeff Geiger, President BIW (also spoke); Larry Shaw, President/CEO MMG Insurance; and Jack Parker, President/CEO Reed & Reed, Inc. Jim Conlon, President/CEO Bangor Savings Bank and Ellie Baker, Managing of Principal Baker Newman Noyes were unavoidably absent. A number of legislators and partner agencies and friends, joined MELIG at the podium in support.

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CEOs Group Looks to Boost Early Childhood Education

Business Leaders Commit to Raising Money for Early Childhood Education

March 12 MELIG Press Conference

The Maine Early Learning Investment Group (MELIG) joined by partner organizations and legislators announced the ELEVATE MAINE initiative today.  ELEVATE MAINE will elevate early education, elevate student achievement and elevate the quality of Maine’s workforce.  Read the article for more and visit ELEVATE MAINE INITIATIVE here.

Capitalists for Preschool

The former CEOs of Macy’s and of Proctor & Gamble come out for high quality early childhood education.

 We have spent most of our careers in business and have come to support quality prekindergarten for all children, especially those whose families cannot afford it, because we know these programs work. The only question is how to bring them to a huge scale. Our nation’s future demands it. If there ever was a nonpartisan issue, this is it.

Educate Maine’s Newest Program: Project>Login

A first-of-its-kind initiative, Project>Login is a collaboration between Educate Maine and the University of Maine System and is funded by Bangor Savings Bank, Eastern Maine Health Systems, IDEXX, Maine Medical and Maine Health, TD Bank North, Unum and WEX. At the Project>Login webiste, find information about careers in Computer Science & Information Technology, resources to help middle and high school students prepare for these degree programs, and paid internship and job opportunities.